Christmas in Hutt Valley: parades, parties & decorations

Christmas parades began in NZ about 1905, started by department stores promoting the arrival of Santa for shoppers to visit in their stores. George and Kersley Ltd’s Wellington store ‘Economic’ advertised probably the first ‘Santa’ parade, with children welcome to see ‘Mother and Father Christmas’ arriving at the railway station.

Evening Post, December 8 1905.

In 1906 the George & Kersley Father and Mother Christmas also dropped into Hutt Valley and Petone on the way to the Lambton Quay store.Father (and sometimes Mother) Christmas or Santa featured at department stores to attract shoppers . ‘Mother Christmas’ is mentioned in newspapers up till 1939, when she seems to have dropped out of fashion. Father Christmas sill features in department stores as a draw card for shoppers today. (NZ History)

The Arrival or Father and Mother Christmas at the Economics Fancy Fair, New Zealand Free Lance, Volume VI, Issue 284, 9 December 1905.

Little’s store in the Hutt was one advertising a Father Christmas parade and ‘magic cave’.

Hutt News, 13 December 1928.

Petone featured a ‘Christmas Shopping Carnival’ in the 1930s, with Liebezeits’ chinaware store winning ‘best decorated car’ in 1931, probably the one pictured below.

Photograph showing Liebezeit’s Gift Store vehicle taking part in the Christmas parade in Petone, date unknown. From Hutt City Libraries.


Evening Post, 11 December 1931.

Early parades had Santa arriving by car or train, but by the 1930s Santas around NZ began arriving by more exotic means – in 1933 he arrived at Hutt Park by jet boat at the Railway Department’s Road Motor Service picnic. The Evening Post captioned him ‘a modern Santa Claus’, ‘right up to date by arriving in a speed-boat during the afternoon’. (Evening Post, 13 December 1933)

‘At top, the speed-boat approaching the shore with Santa Claus and a cargo of toys. Below, a number of donkeys provided considerable amusement’ for the youngsters.’ Evening Post, 13 December 1933.

Santa visits to places such as hospitals and orphanages began in the late 1800s to distribute gifts to the disadvantaged. Church groups like the Salvation Army were among those who held Christmas parties for the needy. But Christmas parties for work places, clubs and friends have always been popular.

Lower Hutt Footballer’s Christmas party. From Hutt City Libraries.
Christmas Party at Seagry House, Ludlam Crescent, Woburn. The gardens of Seagry House were originally part of Bellevue Gardens planted in the 1860s. The Teagles hosted regular events at their house and garden in the 1930s. From Hutt City Libraries.

Hutt Railway Workshops held huge Christmas parties during the 1930s and Santa added helpers, such as clowns or fairies during this time.

1930 Christmas celebrations at Hutt Railway Workshops – on the centre platform is Mr. Walter Nash, M.P. who declared the party open. Sideshows, clowns, a Christmas tree with presents for everyone featured. Evening Post, 22 December 1930.
Evening Post, 12 December 1933.

During World War Two Christmas parades were postponed, resuming again in the late 1940s. The 1949 Wainuiomata Christmas parade featured volunteer firemen and fire trucks, marching girls and a pipe band. (Photos from Hutt City Libraries.)

Eastbourne Borough’s float in the Wellington Christmas parade 1956, celebrating Eastbourne Borough’s jubilee. Some wearing Edwardian costumes, and contemporary representatives from the rugby club, marching girls, swimming club, schools. From Hutt City Libraries.

In the 1970s Lower Hutt City installed Christmas decorations and lights.

Decorations in Queens Drive, Lower Hutt, looking towards Laings Rd Methodist Church. Hutt News, 21 December 1971.
Hutt News, 3 December 1974.

Three 25 foot Christmas candles were installed by crane in time for Christmas 1971 at the Ewen Bridge roundabout. They dwindled to two over the years, and due to vandalism and age 1998 was the last year they appeared.

High St, Lower Hutt. Evening Post, 27 November 1974.

Decorations spread to houses in the annual ‘Christmas Lights Spectacular’ competition, beginning in 1999 in Hathaway Avenue, Lower Hutt.

House in Hathaway Avenue. Hutt News, 21 December 1999.
House in Hathaway Avenue., 12 December 2012.
Christmas parade 1974 High St Lower Hutt. Hutt News, 10 December 1974.

Hutt City Libraries 1998 Christmas bookworm parade

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Stokes Valley Christmas parade, 8 December 2012

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2016 Petone Twilight Christmas parade, Jackson Street

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