In March 2016, 18 people were injured when a balcony gave way at a student flat in Dunedin. The collapse occurred during a free, impromptu concert put on by Six60, a former Dunedin band who until recently played annually at their Castle Street flat in homage to their student origins. Unfortunately, along with five others who suffered serious injuries, a 19-year-old student suffered a severe spinal damage.
The University of Otago produced a confidential report on the incident, which was released under an Official Information Act request submitted by Stuff. The report outlined that the overloading of the balcony was the principal cause of the collapse. Footage that was circulating on social media supported this, as it showed as many as 18 people on the balcony – twice the recommended design loading. Inadequate preparations, security and event infrastructure for the concert were also suggested to have contributed to the unfortunate occurrence.
The report also noted that no warning signs were displayed around the balconies, an issue which could potentially have been overcome if the police and the Campus Watch had been kept in the loop during the event’s organisation.
Interestingly, the report outlined that the organisers avoided many legal responsibilities because they did not sell tickets or alcohol at the event. As Wellington is experiencing increased student enrolments, it begs the question as to whether the capital’s infrastructure will withstand the test of these university student shenanigans.