Balcony Collapse at Six60 concert, 598 Castle Street, Dunedin


Tweet from Rhys Chamberlain (@NZChambo} at 6.32 PM - 4 Mar 2015

Paul Henry
Monday 7 Mar 2016 8:02 a.m. (via
Key: More police wouldn’t have prevented balcony collapse Updated

Paul Henry
Monday 7 Mar 2016 12:42 p.m. (via
Police should have been given more notice of Six60 concert – O’Connor

Six60 outside Castle Street flat that inspired their name Photo Instagram - Six60 (via RNZ News]Six60 outside Castle Street flat that inspired their name. Photo: Instagram/Six60 (via RNZ News)

its SLiK Published on Mar 4, 2016
Balcony collapses near Six60 gig

Otago Daily Times Published on Mar 4, 2016
Balcony collapse on Dunedin’s Castle Street

### Updated at 11:33 am today
RNZ News
No criminal inquiry into balcony collapse
The police have decided against opening a criminal investigation into a balcony collapse at a concert in Dunedin. […] A young woman studying at Otago University has been transferred to Christchurch Hospital, with what have been reported as spinal injuries. A young male student from Otago Polytechnic has undergone surgery at Dunedin Hospital. […] While police did not intend to investigate further from a criminal point of view, they would work with the reviews being carried out by Worksafe New Zealand and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Action was urgently needed to ensure people’s safety and preserve the reputations of the city and Otago University, [Mayor Cull] said.

Other events during this year’s orientation week, such as couch burning and concern about verbal abuse, including a rape threat and racial slurs, have prompted students themselves to call for action.

[Mayor Cull:] The council had no power to control the event at which the balcony collapsed as it was held on private property, and that might need to change. […]

Balcony ‘met building standards’
Mr Cull said the council’s chief building inspector had examined the balcony yesterday, and said it met the requirements of the building code. “I welcome the [Department of Building and Housing’s] further investigation to make it absolutely clear what caused it.” He said whether the partygoers were jumping up and down on the balcony was not the issue; it was that hundreds of people turned up to an event that would not normally be held in a domestic venue. “It’s just not acceptable to expect those kind of situations to not present more risk than if it’s professionally organised.”
Read more

### Updated at 8:00 am today
New footage of balcony collapse concert
By Ian Telfer – Dunedin
High-tech footage of a balcony collapse at a student concert has revealed no-one was jumping on it when it fell.
Read more + Photos

RNZ: University vice-chancellor seeking to halt wild parties

Listen to Ian Telfer on Morning Report

Listen to the interview with Dave Cull on Morning Report

**** stories:

● 7.3.16 Performer warned people to ‘get off the balcony’…
● 6.3.16 Harrowing injuries after balcony collapse…
● 6.3.16 Dunedin balcony collapse – Government orders investigation
● 5.3.16 Balcony collapse: Concerns raised about stability…
● 5.3.16 Balcony collapses at Six60 gig…

Comment at What if? Dunedin:

Anonymous 2016/03/06 at 11:05 pm
Dealing with some issues here:

– on the claim that “the concert was impromptu” – it was “announced” via social media on Monday and the University was aware prior (Campus Watch were detailed). Animation Research Ltd had a 360 degree motion camera rig in operation (and captured footage of the collapse). A stage was erected and sound gear installed. This is not impromptu.

– an “impromptu” event would still need to be notified
see here:
“Any planned activity where any structure, open area, roadway or other area will contain more people than normally found in that location at one time.”

– the venue was unsafe. Egress, crush barriers and evacuation were inadequate (a van was parked across the leg-in blocking access) as the band were performing (and ARL were working, and news media were reporting), this meets the definition of a “workplace” and both HSA and Worksafe legislation apply.

The event organizer has strict liability here. Those suggesting that the balcony collapse was the fault of those on it and that they should take “personal responsibility” are unfortunately misguided. It is up to the event organizer and those assessing the management plan to identify and control these risks. This was clearly inadequate in this case.

I would not want to be standing anywhere near the event organizers once the detailed investigation starts.

Related Post and Comments:
3.11.15 Dunedin: University students into excess alcohol, party drugs, sexual abuse, vandalism #CRIME —Balcony collapse discussed from comment 71132

█ For more, enter the terms *students*, *university*, *harlene* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Concerts, Construction, DCC, Democracy, Design, Dunedin, Events, Media, Name, New Zealand, Otago Polytechnic, People, Police, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Structural engineering, Tourism, Town planning, Travesty, University of Otago, Urban design

37 responses to “Balcony Collapse at Six60 concert, 598 Castle Street, Dunedin

  1. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 8 Mar 2016
    Family ‘humbled’ by support after balcony collapse
    The family of a girl who suffered spinal injuries after a balcony collapsed on top of her at a Six60 concert in Dunedin has been “humbled” by the support a Givealittle page set up for her has received. Second year student Bailley Unahi sustained multiple fractures last Friday when a packed balcony collapsed at a block of flats on Castle St where the concert was taking place. […] By 5pm today, more than $20,000 had been pledged […] The Givealittle page for Ms Unahi, set up by a friend of the Unahi family to assist them with medical costs. NZME
    Read more

    ODT: Police ‘unable’ to move revellers
    ODT: Editorial: When is enough really enough?


    ### ODT Online Tue, 8 Mar 2016
    Balcony collapse student squashed ‘like a pancake’
    By Online ODT
    A Southland student has spoken of being crushed “like a pancake” when a balcony fell on him during a concert in Dunedin’s student quarter. “There was just a loud noise of cracking and we looked up and the deck was just falling from about three metres high and it came straight down on my shoulders and I folded flat,” George Karamaena told Checkpoint with John Campbell today. […] He told RNZ [his] fibula and femur were snapped, and a lower vertabrae in his back was broken.
    Read more


    ### ODT Online Tue, 8 Mar 2016
    Landlord checking balconies
    By Rhys Chamberlain
    A Dunedin landlord answered a call from tenants worried about their balcony after one collapsed at a Six60 gig on Friday, injuring 18 people. […] Props were put up against the flat, at 116 Union St East, as the landlord and his son worked to secure the balcony, which had “dropped a couple of centimetres”.
    Read more

  2. Elizabeth

    ODT 4.3.16 (page 10)
    —printed on the morning of Fateful Friday at 598 Castle St

    ODT 4.3.16 Letter to editor Fey p10

    • Callum

      If I ever have children I would never send them to Otago. I would definitely worry about them not fitting in if they are not the drinking type or if they go the wrong direction.

      One of my friends told me that her friends who went to Otago ended up having alcohol problems later in life. I am really glad that I didn’t get into foundation year in 2011 as I don’t think I would fit in. I do drink but I don’t like to get drunk.

      I wouldn’t blame those parents at all for not wanting to take their children to Otago.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        You would have been OK here, Callum, if you already knew you liked to drink, but not so much that you don’t feel fully in control of yourself i.e. drunk. Because there are so many young people in one place there are innumerable sub-groups, hanging out mainly with their own kind, having small parties where the emphasis is on food as well as drink, and the point of being together is sociability not antisocial activity when, as quickly as possible, they are alcohol-fueled up to their dandruff. However we never hear about the civilized ones.
        Well, we did this time, the rugby girls on their way home from practice, sober yet keen on music as well as sport. It was one of them who copped the worst from the heedless dancing/prancing/jumping overcrowders who caused the balcony to fall.

        • Elizabeth

          Updated comment 2:24pm.

          It’s strange that so much of the news is reserved for the young woman whose spine was broken in three places (severely injured and disabled) and yet the young male polytech student with two broken legs and a broken back receives the barest mention. His friends and family perhaps have a different idea of how to manage media or have downplayed attention. It just seems odd. Is anyone collecting donations to assist his rehabilitation, because he will need a lot of it and ACC does not cover all the remedial physiotherapy costs, for starters.

          Oh, ODT tacked information about George Karamaena (18) onto the end of the story for Bailley Unahi.


          █ There is a Givealittle page for George, go to

  3. Elizabeth

    Comment at ODT Online:

    Dave’s way with words
    Submitted by GoDunners on Tue, 08/03/2016 – 5:00pm.

    If you took Mayor Cull’s comments through to their natural conclusions there will be not much left of Dunedin to worry about. South Dunedin is facing a “slow moving earthquake” and climate change red zone disaster. And he’s had enough of North Dunedin as it’s an unsafe hotbed of fires and shocking behaviour with huge reputation problems. Once the Mayor is done, there will be no residents left in either South or North Dunedin. Well done Dave.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      GoDunners, “I live on a hill / in area that has never been flooded even in (genuine) 100-year storms / am moving to Wanaka/QueenstownOturehua next year after the election,”

  4. Pb

    Police and campus cops in attendance attempting crowd control would have leant some official assurance that all was sweet, and sanctioned, else surely they would have shut it down? Meandering amongst the drunken gangs travelling to and from the footy on Saturday night, I was struck by how easily they could blissfully be translocated to a dodgy balcony party, one by one, to rock-on, until it fell. These kids know no boundaries. The crowd and the booze brings out the stoopid. I think this “event” will repeat until we get the drunks off the street.

    • If there are no ‘balconies’, there will be no balcony collapse. Make the environment safe first, then bring out the Riot Squad if you must. Sheeting home responsibility to the victims is an easy out.

      • ringdry

        Taking away balconies under the guise of making the environment safe is a total cop out. Akin to taking away electricity because it can electrocute people. People have some responsibility for their own safety. If people choose to do absolutely dumb things the blame cannot be shouldered by someone else.

      • Hype O'Thermia

        Nobody blamed the victims, the people seriously injured. Nobody says they shouldn’t have stood under the balcony. The people who overcrowded a small balcony then danced, as one does at a music show, have been blamed because they were at fault for keeping on crowding onto the balcony when it already had as many people as a sentient organism would have thought it was designed to hold.
        It’s the balcony’s fault here too, eh, or the landlord’s, or the builder’s, or the architect’s –

        • Elizabeth

          Well, it used to be that we’d get drunk, play possum and fall out of trees. We have moved to balconies, better access to drink and food before we crash our bones on uneven surfaces.

          The rather imposing heritage house at 124 Dundas Street (cnr Lovelock Avenue) is owned by Chris James via his company Heriot Holdings Ltd, of which he is sole director/shareholder. He will not be happy.

          ### ODT Online Sun, 13 Mar 2016
          Teen hurt in Dunedin balcony fall
          A 19-year-old man was taken to hospital with head injuries after falling from a balcony in the Dunedin student area last night. Emergency services were called to the Dundas St property just after 10pm, where there was a party, Newstalk ZB reports. The man was taken to Dunedin Hospital bleeding and with head injuries.
          ODT Link

        • Elizabeth

          Don’t read ODT’s Facebook page – it’s there you’ll find plenty of callous disregard…. blaming the victims.

        • Anonymous

          There can’t have been another balcony incident.
          The Mayor has said It Can Never Happen Again.

        • Elizabeth

          Not a balcony, a hedge.

          ODT Online Mon, 14 Mar 2016
          Serious head injuries after falling
          A 19-year-old man suffered serious head injuries after falling at a house party in North Dunedin on Saturday night. Emergency services were called to a Dundas St address about 9.55pm. A St John spokesman said the teen was taken to Dunedin Hospital with serious head injuries after falling from a hedge.
          Read more

  5. Elizabeth

    Police are “bemused and annoyed” blame is being directed towards them after a balcony collapsed at Six60 concert in Dunedin injuring 18 people.

    “Don’t look to the criminal justice system to solve what should be common-sense solutions. It was a probably pretty dumb decision by a band, poorly planned, poorly thought out, with these consequences.”
    –Police Association president Greg O’Connor


    ### Wed, 9 Mar 2016
    Your word on monitoring students
    The University of Otago is dealing with fresh claims of sexual and racial harassment in and around campus. Authorities are also concerned about general disorder in the student quarter, and it’s possible more CCTV cameras will be installed. So our word on the street team asked members of the public if they think tertiary students need to be more closely monitored.
    Ch39 Video

  6. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 10 Mar 2016
    Keep people off balconies, owner told
    By Rhys Chamberlain
    An owner of a block of flats where a balcony collapsed last week injuring 18 people has been advised to keep people off the remaining ones until they are strengthened. The advice comes from the Dunedin City Council after it completed an initial inquiry into the collapse.
    Read more

    ODT: Decks not rejected for bettering rules

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “Keep people off balconies.”
      The police who were present at the time couldn’t get people to come off roofs, couldn’t get excessive numbers of people to leave balconies. I like the building owner’s chances unless he blocks access from inside with something permanently affixed that is impossible to remove, then loops razor wire all over the balconies to prevent climbing onto them from outside.
      Building owners would be delighted to find a way of preventing people climbing on the roofs too. Replacing tiles that were knocked off, the damage reported to owner when rain came in. (How dreadful, students forced to live in damp houses.) Corrugated iron dented, paint or “permanent” coating scratched allowing rust to attack the iron.

      What about the rules applying to the people who do the damage – to property and now, horrifically, to other people?

      How about building owners being obliged to put a notice on doorway to balconies and affixed to the top rail of balconies, stating (as in lifts, bridges) maximum number / weight for which it is rated? And responsibility being returned to those who are in a position day to day, whether anyone in authority is watching or not, to behave appropriately?

      They are NOT too young to behave sensibly. They are old enough to travel overseas without being accompanied by a parent or other adult. They are indeed old enough to obtain a driving license and drive powerful vehicles on public roads. Most of them are old enough to obtain a firearms license. If old enough to be in control of cars and firearms, the excuse that one cannot expect people of that age to behave responsibly in rental housing doesn’t impress me at all.

      • The young, H, the young, they don’t think in those terms. The brain is not fully developed until around 25 years. In any case, we need to stop blaming victims of structural failure.

        • Elizabeth

          Given the structure was compliant with the building code, which the DCC chief building inspector has confirmed that it was, then we need to look past issues of structural integrity of (this) lightweight balcony componentry to, yes the alternative design of structures for rental accommodation that takes account of the human factor in higher density city areas, across New Zealand. Thus why Housing Minister Nick Smith Nick has MoBIE (or MBIE) carrying out the investigation.

          The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment administers Acts and associated regulations on behalf of the New Zealand Government, together with several international conventions. Read more here:

        • Hype O'Thermia

          If the brain is not fully developed till 25 years legislation must be changed immediately to alter age limits for drinking, signing contracts, driving and use of firearms.
          I don’t think anyone is blaming victims of structural failure, are they? Blame seems to be thrown at everyone else though, everyone except those who caused adequate structures to fail.
          There is very little that cannot be wrecked, by brute force and/or misuse.

      • pb

        Nice imagery Hype. I’m taken to the mines of moria, in the Fellowship of the ring, not long before the balrog attacks. Are our precious students just like the moria Goblins scuttling on the columns and rooves of the dwarven world like cockroaches.

  7. Simon

    Brain not fully developed till 25 years. That is why they go to Otago Uni at a very young age, so that the brain washing can be completed before they reach 25.

    • The brain, the frontal cortex, develops just fine, under normal circumstances. It is prevented from developing untrammelled when there’s booze to promote and drugs to sell, which delay cognitive maturity. Spare a thought for the worried out of town families of first years.

  8. Elizabeth

    Behaviour witnessed on video not reckless, party-goers dancing, not jumping on balcony.

    ### ODT Online Sat, 12 Mar 2016
    Report says balcony overloaded
    By Timothy Brown
    Overloading was to blame for the collapse of a balcony in North Dunedin last week which injured 18 people, a structural engineer investigating for the Dunedin City Council says. Chartered professional engineer Dave Charters said there was no use in pointing fingers following the collapse, which seriously injured two students, but there were lessons to be learned. He expected to hand his report to the council next week and did not want to speculate on its conclusions.
    Read more

  9. Elizabeth

    The obvious pertains.

    Mon, 4 Apr 2016
    ODT: ‘Overloading’ caused balcony collapse
    The council’s general manager services and development, Simon Pickford, said today that DCL Consulting confirmed the collapse came as a result of “the balcony being critically overloaded beyond its ultimate capacity”. The balcony met the building code requirements when built and had building consent, although questions remained over the suitability of the venue to hold a concert, the report said.

  10. Elizabeth

    In the “old days” bands played at the Student Union, where they should do so again. Large lawn and a strong building which includes the Union Hall.

  11. Elizabeth

    University of Otago, in an emailed statement, supports recommendations in the report.

    Tue, 5 Apr 2016
    ODT: Concert a ‘tragic decision’
    The concert during which a balcony collapsed injuring 18 people should never have been held at student flats, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says. “The management of the band [Six60] should have thought of the possible consequences of holding that concert there. They kept it reasonably under wraps, so you would have to ask why they did that.”
    [A report released by the Dunedin City Council yesterday] recommended referring the report to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – which was also investigating the collapse – and forwarding a copy to the drafting committee examining possible updates to the building code.

  12. Elizabeth

    ### Tue, 5 Apr 2016
    Law reform suggested in response to balcony collapse
    Legislative change is being suggested, following a report into the collapse of a balcony in the student quarter. More than a dozen people crowded the structure during a concert, leading to its demise and the injury of 18 partygoers. And now authorities are urging the government to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.
    Ch39 Video

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “Authorities” have been unable to prevent students climbing onto roofs. I expect safety nets will be required around rental properties in student areas – because students cannot be expected to act with as much sense as other people, their above average IQs being required for intellectual activity whereas the common joe teenager being less bright is expected to learn – and practice – reasonable sensible behaviour, and sentenced accordingly when they break the law on account of their less than glittering prospects.
      Upon attaining well-known prominent status accountability all but vanishes. Equality before the law is too unfair to contemplate, eh.

      • Elizabeth

        An associate caught sight of a particularly juvenile and UNSAFE act that occurred next door….
        The scene.
        Two storeyed house with dormer windows in the City Rise, tenanted by university 3rd or 4th year male students.
        Constant noise and behavioural issues…. well-known to Noise Control, Campus Watch and Proctor [Police attention very much the next step – these young idiots have been told].

        One of them had earlier broken his leg. Following recovery and some time later…. his so-called ‘friends’ egged him on to jump from a dormer roof (at second floor level) into a shallow paddling pool. He had to think about it quite a while…. obviously he was facing serious injury or worse if he got it wrong, given the building height and shallowness of the water. Being a mental statistic he jumped – by luck not good management he did not need an ambulance.

        What was that about safety nets – let the morons kill themselves, one less noise complaint.

  13. Elizabeth

    Last updated 18:22, April 13 2016 (+ Video)
    Stuff: Housing Minister warns balconies are not ‘grandstands’ after collapse
    Government officials are looking at the safety of overloaded balconies during “risk” events, such as Santa parades, following the collapse of a Dunedin balcony. A report by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) was released by Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith near the Castle St complex on Wednesday.

    ### 13 April, 2016
    Nick Smith
    Overloading primary cause of Dunedin balcony collapse

    An investigation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment into the collapse of a Castle Street balcony during a music concert on 4 March 2016, which resulted in injury to several students, has found the primary cause was overloading, Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith said today in releasing the report.
    “The simple reason this balcony collapsed was that nearly twice the number of people it was designed to support were on the balcony, and many of those people were grouped at one end of it. The investigation has found the balcony was properly designed as per the Building Code of that time, was properly consented, was built to standard, and received a Code Compliance Certificate. Inspection and testing of the joists that failed has not identified any concerns about the standard of timber used in the construction,” Dr Smith says.
    “The most valuable lesson for this accident is for people not to use residential balconies as grandstands. They are designed for a loading of two kilopascals (kPa), or about two people per square metre, and crowding more than this poses risks for the people on them and others. A further lesson is for people to co-operate with Police and other officials responsible for public safety during events like concerts because crowds can pose additional risks that may not be obvious to people having a good time.”
    Dr Smith also noted there were two technical areas where he had asked officials to undertake additional work to ensure buildings were constructed as safely as possible.
    Resd more


    Government report released today said overloading was the “principal” cause of the March 4 collapse during a Six60 concert.

    Wed, 13 Apr 2016
    ODT: More reports ordered after balcony collapse
    The Government has ordered additional reports into loading standards for balconies after collapse of a balcony on Castle St which injured 18 people. […] Loading standards of residential balconies with a risk of overloading and a practice called “notching”, which shortens joists but still complies with building standards, would be investigated further.

  14. Elizabeth

    ODT Update 8:27 p.m.
    The Fire Service says the Castle St flat’s residents are lucky to be alive after two smoke alarms installed in January were found to have been taken down and stowed away in cupboards – a decision described as “an act of stupidity”.

    Flatmate suspects the fire may have been started by a switchboard beside a stairway in the house.

    Fire investigator called to the scene.

    Sat, 14 May 2016
    ODT: Three injured in Dunedin flat fire (+ video)
    Residents of the Dunedin flat where the band Six60 formed screamed for help as a fire ripped through the house this morning. Three people were taken to hospital, one with serious burns, after the blaze at 660 Castle St shortly before 7am.

    █ Up until this year the band held an annual gig at their old flat, but due to limited space they moved their show this year to 598 Castle St.

  15. Hype O'Thermia

    Don’t let your kids flat with ditzes, is or should be the real message message.
    There are dizzy blonde types of all complexion & hair colour, every braininess category, every age – and in every province.
    The only places that one has a moderate chance of avoiding them are hell-holes where everyone has to be on the ball to the farthest stretch of one’s capabilities just to be still alive.
    These people are not the kind your kids should flat with. They let people crowd onto the balcony that anyone with a scintilla of operational sense would have known was not fit for being jam-packed. And they made sure the fire/smoke alarms were not working.
    Why would people fit for living outside sheltered accommodation do that? From experience with rentals, it’s because they want to smoke.
    From observation, people who want to smoke tobacco go outside.

  16. Elizabeth

    What if?
    Fry. Unwatched cooking pot in kitchen
    They wanted to drink, and did…….
    Like the NZFS tell us not to

    Many (global) possibles including electrical fault, a lab…..
    Who knew.

  17. Elizabeth

    Link to story received from a colleague tonight.

    There was … only one security member working at the event when the collapse occurred.

    NZ Herald 3 Feb, 2017
    Report reveals failings at scene of Six60 concert balcony collapse
    A new report about the collapse of a balcony at a student concert in Dunedin has revealed a number of failings, including organisers’ lack of communication with authorities. Several students from the University of Otago were injured last year when a balcony collapsed during a Six60 concert held at a group of flats in Castle St. The report outlined a number of failures that involved insufficient warning to university staff, security and police; and a lack of preparedness of the flat property manager who, alongside the band, organised the free gig.
    Read more

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