The statue of New Zealand's former Premier, and Wanganui Herald founder and editor, John Ballance was decked out for Christmas this year.

The bronze statue on the corner of Guyton and St Hill streets was seen sporting a red and white cape, tinsel scarf and red hat with antlers attached.

By lunchtime on Boxing Day, the hat had been removed but the other items remained intact.

It is a far cry from the days of the Pākaitore/Moutoa Gardens occupation of 25 years ago when the head of a former marble Ballance statue was removed and replaced with a pumpkin.


At the time Whanganui iwi representatives called Ballance a "thief" and said he made decisions that lost Māori their lands.

The replacement bronze statue was installed outside the Whanganui District Council Buildings in 2009 when the contentious Michael Laws was mayor.

Laws refuted iwi claims about Ballance.

"They are ignorant Māori, who don't know their history or the history of our centre," he claimed.

Irish-born Ballance came to Whanganui in 1866 and after running a jewellery shop in Victoria Ave for a short time, he founded The Wanganui Herald newspaper.

He was the owner of the paper for the remainder of his life and was editor until he entered politics.

Ballance became Premier of New Zealand in 1890 and is remembered for his support of Women's Suffrage and his sound handling of the economy.

He died of intestinal disease in 1893 and was buried in Whanganui at Heads Rd Cemetery.