Winston Peters' contribution to the last-day-of-term entertainment in Parliament was a plea to save fat Santas from National's "health police".
He claimed to have received "disturbing reports" of "skinny, pale and miserable" Santas who had been forced to lose weight to keep their jobs at the North City Plaza mall in Porirua.
"On the evening of the 5th of December, it was noticed that Mr Claus, or Santa as we know him, was thin and the cheeks of his face were pale," he told a pantomime-crowd atmosphere in the House yesterday.
"Mr Claus revealed to my officer that health authorities warned that they would no longer tolerate employing a Santa Claus that was obese with high blood pressure.
"He was forced to starve himself for months and take medication for high blood pressure. He can hardly, barely, go 'Ho ho,' let alone 'Ho ho ho'."
And there was worse to come, he said: "It has been revealed that the Ministry of Sexual Equality has warned it will no longer tolerate sexual stereotyping of the spirit of Christmas.
"That's right: Santa Claus, as this case may be, is now going to be called Person Christmas as from next year."
NZ First stood firmly behind tradition and would leave out Christmas Eve treats for Santa "high in sugar and saturated fat", he declared.
"We will leave out port wine, a couple of turkeys and some Christmas cake to ensure he lasts the distance."
Holly Lynn, marketing manager at North City, said its Santas were all sizes, and Bluestone Recruitment, New Zealand's major supplier of mall Santas, said extra padding was supplied to those who felt they needed it.
"If they don't want to have that padding, we'll have them say something like, 'Mrs Claus has me on a diet' ... or a keep fit regime."
- The Dominion Post
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