He was the world's largest fibreglass Santa when he was built in 1960, but Auckland's giant Santa will retire after this Christmas.

For the best part of 60 years, the big man has towered over Aucklanders each festive season, changed hands for $1, lost his wink and moving finger, and crowned the world's creepiest Christmas ornament.

But after being saved from retirement in 2014, the central city's business association Heart of the City says this time it's for real. Santa will appear one last time atop the Farmers building in Queen St tomorrow before hanging up his red coat for good on January 10.

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"We know Santa is well-loved by many Aucklanders," Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck said, "but sadly, for a combination of reasons, it feels the time is right to retire this model."

The reasons include the need for a fresh paint of the weary Father Christmas, his 18-metre, five-tonne frame costs $200,000 to store, maintain and assemble, and he needs a new home to rest up.

In 2014, SkyCity and family-owned property development company Mansons TCLM committed three years of funding support.

Beck said Mansons had gone way beyond what they agreed to do, but with no confirmation beyond this year, Heart of the City made the call to retire Santa.

"For us to continue with Santa on our own is unsustainable," she said.

From 1960, when Santa was installed on the Farmers flagship store on Hobson St, to the current day, where he sits above the Farmers store on Queen St, Beck said Santa was a joyous part of Auckland's Christmas tradition so it was important to give the cheery figure a fitting send-off.

"We want to provide Aucklanders with the opportunity to say goodbye to Santa. Many of us have fond memories of him," Beck said.

He was the world’s largest fibreglass Santa when he was built in 1960. In January of next year, Queen St's giant Santa will be retired. Video / HeartOfTheCity

Heart of the City is inviting people to share their memories and photos of Santa which can be uploaded to heartofthecity.co.nz, emailed to farewellsanta@hotcity.co.nz or shared on Instagram and Facebook using #FarewellSanta. They will be published on a dedicated page on heartofthecity.co.nz/farewellsanta.

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Beck said Santa's retirement had prompted a rethink of how to celebrate Christmas in a changing city like Auckland, but it may take a few years.

Will there be another Santa?

"I can't answer that now because we need to think about how we do celebrate Christmas. It's important we don't lose all the traditions of Santa but how we represent that from next year onwards we haven't confirmed yet. It may or may not have another Santa," Beck said.

Mayor Phil Goff said Santa had been an iconic figure and there would be a degree of sadness about his retirement, but accepted the decision by Heart of the City.

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck. Photo / File
Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck. Photo / File

Hasting's loved, and occasionally loathed, giant 8m high, 4.5m wide, 700kg Santa is also putting in a final Christmas appearance before he is put into retirement.

Put simply, "the old fella doesn't take well to wind", New World Hastings store owner Jeff Yates said.

History

1960:

5-tonne, 18m Santa was built by Farmers for its flagship store in Hobson St.

1991-1996: Store sold and Santa relocated to Manukau Shopping Centre.

1998: Santa sold for $1 to special events executive Stephen Hanford and returned to the Whitcoulls building in Queen St after a $40,000 make-over.

2003: Santa gifted to Whitcoulls.

2008: Whitcoulls gift Santa to the city.

2009: Santa restored, minus his wink and moving finger, at a cost of $100,000.

2011: Santa crowned the world's creepiest Christmas ornament.

2014: Property development company Mansons and SkyCity pledge storage and other costs to keep Santa.

January 10, 2020: Santa retires.