This slide show features a series of shots taken by the Evening Post photographer who accompanied Santa to the Chatham Islands in 1951 on board a TEAL Solent flying boat.
Below is a report of the event from the Evening Post, 17 December 1951.
Chathams Christmas Party
His traditional reindeer and sleigh replaced by a four-engined TEAL Solent, Father Christmas flew up to the Chatham Islands on Saturday. More than 400 of the islands’ 500 inhabitants cheered him hilariously as he stepped ashore from a launch in Te Whanga Lagoon, a huge sack of toys over his shoulder.
In the three and a quarter hours he distributed good cheer, the islanders – all in paper hats provided by TEAL – consumed several bottles of whisky and soft drinks, numerous cartons of strawberries, 48 dozen chocolate ice creams, and 60 dozen ice cream blocks, and 10 gallons of ice cream, estimated to produce 450 ices. The ice cream was donated by a Christchurch firm and carried free by TEAL.
From two brightly decorated Christmas trees and a number of bran tubs on the beach each of the islands’ children received a present from the hands of Father Christmas himself. Never before has Te Whanga Lagoon witnessed so many hand-shakings, expressions of good will and head-pattings.
The only incident of the flight down from Wellington occurred when a sheep dog, bored with his crate, broke out of it to investigate his surroundings in a passenger compartment which had been converted for the carriage of innumerable crates of bananas, sausages and other goods. Evans Bay Traffic Officer Allan Valois soon made him more comfortable.
Of the 30 passengers on the Awatere only five were islanders.
Like George and David Richie who were going to stay with Dudley Ousey, a fellow pupil of the Hereworth School, Havelock North, many were going to the island for a holiday.
The happiest couple on the flying-boat were the well-known footballer, Russell Hohaia, of Taranaki, and Myra Tuuta, of Big Bush, who were going to the Chathams to be married from Myra’s home.
The visit was a celebration of TEAL's year-old air service to the remote islands, which had previously only been serviced by boat. The regular flight from Wellington allowed the transport of people and fresh produce. As one local pointed out, 'Without TEAL's service the people would have been in a very difficult position during the recent waterfront strike.'