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Warriors star Shaun Johnson to lead Auckland’s Santa Parade

Natasha Hill

Warriors legend Shaun Johnson has a new leadership role but it’s not with his beloved Wahs.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The player is set to lead the Auckland Farmers Santa Parade this Sunday.

It will be a “full circle moment” for the father - one of the best players for the Warriors during the 2023 NRL - who used to watch the parade as a child.

“It always makes an appearance on the news and I think that’s probably where I mainly remember it from.

“When they reached out and asked if I’d be interested in it and I think now that I’ve got a couple of kids of my own it sort of seems like a cool thing to do.”

Last year's Farmers Santa Parade in central Auckland. Photo / Hayden Woodward

Johnson recalls spending Christmas with his family who would put extra effort into making the day feel special.

“My dad always made it pretty special or put a pretty big effort to make it a special day and I always remember we always had heaps of family around.”

He hopes to give the same feeling he felt as a child to other kids at the parade.

“I was attracted to it because it’s just the thought of being able to make Christmas special for a kid out there like the experiences I had as a kid.”

Johnson says his 3-year-old daughter Millah is the most excited to lead the parade with him.

“She’s going to be pretty fizzed I reckon when we get out there and she gets to experience it. Some of the floats and some of the performances that she’ll definitely recognise.

“It’s quite obviously a bit of a buzz for me but more of a buzz for her for sure.”

Shaun Johnson and daughter Millah. hoto / Photosport

Johnson’s not worried about the lack of rehearsal and is excited to “put a smile” on the faces of kids who may recognise him.

“I think what’s cool about being asked to do something like this is you get asked just to be yourself and that’s all I’m gonna do.

Coming on the back of a successful rugby season, Johnson says he is grateful for the opportunity.

“They’ve seen something ... in the way I’ve carried myself or I’ve displayed throughout the year that they feel like ... was quite relatable.”

Half of his joy will be from seeing how happy his daughter will be.

“She’ll see her daddy in the parade and then be able to sit and watch the rest of the parade unfold.”

Santa and his helpers at last year's Farmers Santa Parade in central Auckland. Photo / Hayden Woodward

Hero image: Shaun Johnson will lead Auckland's Farmers Santa Parade off the back of a successful Warriors season. Photo /

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