Nehe Milner-Skudder has waded in on the Māori Santa debate, calling the issue "pretty ridiculous".
The All Blacks star wrote a thoughtful "little rant" on his Facebook page, outlining his view on the underlying racial politics behind the saga.
The Nelson Santa Parade last Sunday sparked debate across the country after the parade featured a Māori version of Santa – ditching the traditional outfit for a de-bearded man wearing a red korowai.
Milner-Skudder (Ngāti Porou/Tapuika) said he disagreed with the notion of a Māori Santa, but for a different reason to many of the others who have criticised the Nelson parade's decision.
"Man this Māori Santa "issue" is pretty ridiculous and personally I find it stupid that it's created such a frenzy," he wrote on his Facebook page.
"The main reason why I disagree with it is because I don't think Maori need to assimilate to Pākehā traditions. Santa is a white tradition and we can celebrate it in our own way that suits our culture.
"Conforming or assimilating to another culture is ultimately the reason why Maori culture is not as present in todays [sic] society."
The Hurricanes fullback did however take issue with some of the commentary that has come out of the media, pointing in particular to The AM Show host Duncan Garner who opined that "Māori don't own everything".
"What a complete hoax and what a joke. Who was the person behind this?" Garner said on Monday.
"You need to have a beard to have Santa, you need to have a Santa suit on. And sorry, turning up with a korowai? You got this so wrong, Nelson. You couldn't have been more wrong.
"The kids weren't there to see a Māori Santa. Santa's very different to Māori – Māori don't have to own everything. Santa is Santa, and Santa's not broken."
Milner-Skudder said people who have a platform need to be mindful of the things they say in the media, and called Garner's comments "disrespectful and disgusting".
"In saying that, people like Duncan Garner and others who have commented on this matter need to be MINDFUL of the things they say," he said.
"You have a platform so you can have an opinion but you don't need to make certain comments. Saying things like "Māori don't own everything" is just disrespectful and disgusting really.
"Of course we don't own everything, it was taken at colonisation and we've failed as a country to truly understand Maori culture and in turn that means we've failed to redress those wrongs."
He added that the comments that have come out of the debate have been more damaging than the oppositional Santa himself.
"Annnnnyway, The reason behind the Santa was multiculturalism, a positive thing, and maybe they got it wrong but you definitely got it wrong with your response. It's people like you that hinder the positive moment.
"I feel like the comments and remarks that have come out have been far more damaging then [sic] the Santa himself.
"Anyway the point of this post was just to remind people to be mindful of the things you say... Especially if you have a platform that can easily influence others.
"Ahh little rant for the week... Gonna go find me a santa suit now … Ho, Ho, Ho, Ka aroha my bro."
All Blacks Ardie Savea, Dane Coles and Victor Vito were among the many who praised Milner-Skudder's post, while others argued that the issue "wasn't about race" – mirroring the polarising debate that played out throughout the week.