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Mucking In

Sundays at 7pm | TV ONE

Xmas special - Reg Shaw, Palmerston North


Christmas special - Reg Shaw, Palmerston North

'The children believe he is Santa, there is no denying it.'

For the past nine years, Reg Shaw has operated a free "Santa's Workshop" from the dilapidated garage of his humble Palmerston North Home. For the entire year preceding December 25th, Reg's home slowly fills with toys, which he repairs, wraps and gives away to the local kids along with more toys, balloons and lollies bought with his own money.

Reg himself dresses up as Santa, and his daughter Vanessa (a 23-year-old social worker) dresses as an elf and in the evenings over the 12 days leading up until Christmas, the garage transforms into Santa's grotto and together with the family they give presents to children who come from miles around.

Reg had been doing "Santa's" work for many years prior to setting up the workshop; visiting local old people's homes, kindy's etc, never asking for a cent for his services. Even during full time employment Reg mysteriously took 10 weeks annual leave each year (without pay)  to fulfil his Santa duties. 

For over 5 years now Reg has a part time job during the holiday season as Santa for a big shopping mall...his voluntary Santa role came about after borrowing a Santa suit from a job one year, and with his daughter Vanessa, they took it a step further to give away all her old toys - so they set up under the cherry tree on their front lawn.  200 children came to visit them that year, and since then it has grown so big that they have had to move into the double garage (which they light up, as well as the house).  Last year over 2,000 people from all over New Zealand signed the visitors book during the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

Reg is described as a true Santa in every sense of the word - he is extremely caring, loves kids, has a heart of gold, would give the shirt off his back to help anyone, nothing is ever too much trouble.  He is a large, jolly man, who is gentle and strong, kind and funny and refuses to lose weight as he wants the 'real' padding for his Santa persona.  Reg's other passion is carving which he studies at the local Maori University.

Reg Shaw with the help of his family capture the magic and wonder of Christmas that children enjoy - it's about the giving and the sparkle that appears in the eyes of the children that truly believe Santa has come to Palmerston North; albeit before the big guy from the North Pole takes over Christmas Eve.

The Mucking In experience in Reg's own words.

We would once sit and watch Mucking In every Sunday at 7pm. And say "it will never happen to us".  But when it does, wow! - What an experience!

It was December in 2007, and Christmas was a hectic time with both the duties that Santa entails, and the general "rush" of the season.  It is always a special time, sitting in Santa's Workshop, children visiting, and families sharing laughter and special times.  However, I had no idea of the marvellous journey that was about to unfold.  From the moment Jim Mora first spoke to me, our family began the journey of the most magical Christmas ever.

Come the Mucking In weekend, our journey began with a karakia by future son-in-law Steven, and then we were whisked away by a limousine to begin our fantastic getaway, beginning with a stay at the luxury Hiwinui Lodge.  Jan and Dave Douglas, our hosts treated us like royalty.  That afternoon we visited the Herb Farm for an incredible experience, with delicious food, and fragrances that sent your senses dancing, in a most delightful fashion.  Later that evening, we returned back to the Lodge, where the five star meals were 200%, the very best of bone china to dine with, and silverware to rival the Queen!

On Saturday, Julie, our driver for the day, took us to Ashhurst for a horse and cart trek, also recording the trip on camera.  She was so hospitable and friendly, and made us feel truly special.  We had a delectable dinner that evening at the Ashhurst domain. 

On Sunday we were on the road again at 10.30 am and Julie took us to Fielding for lunch.  Travelling on to Wanganui, we boarded the beautiful Waimarie paddle-steamer, built in 1899 - this took us 13 km up the Wanganui River and back.  Our limousine was awaiting us at the jetty and as we rode back in this most elegant and luxurious fashion, we reflected on our truly magical weekend break away, and felt the excitement building as we began our journey back to our home in Palmerston North, wondering what they may have done, Did they prune up the trees?  Did they put up wallpaper in the old garage?  Perhaps that pad of concrete that was laid before we left was for Santa's sleigh?  We could only imagine!

Arriving back, we were blown away by the crowd of people waiting, but most of all was the unbelievable, stunning and wondrous garden hat Mucking In had created.  Spectacular may be one way to put it, but really, it left us both lost for words.  A magnificent display of Christmas lighting and a festively co-ordinating landscape.

A lucky few have already had a sneak peek in the workshop, with one boy exclaiming "my skateboard is there!" and another girl could see the unicorn she hopes Santa may have for her at Christmas.

Now, as we sit and watch Mucking In each week, we see different personalities, but we identify each as our friends, and we sit back in awe - that happened to us!  I simply do not know how to thank you all, and to repay you for what you have given to us.

A big thank you, Mucking In for what you have created, turning our house into a home.  A truly warming, and humbling experience  You have created a special kind of magic both in our home and in our hearts.  You are what 'The Magic of Christmas' is all about!  You have gifted us a gift that will continue to give for children, families and for all of us for many, many years to come. I hope, too that we will continue to see you on air similarly for years to come.

Arohanui Kei te Whanau


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