The Untold Story of the Mysterious Castle Street Tagger

The Untold Story of the Mysterious Castle Street Tagger

Is it art? Is it a crime? We delve into the mind of Castle’s most mysterious culprit

It was a dark and stormy night, but the Re-O parties were in full swing. DnB raged, bottles were smashed back, students galloped around North D, fuelled by alcohol and a desperation for good (or at least numbing) times. A familiar story. That is, until one visitor from “up north” changed everything. Armed with nothing but spray paint and a huge cone, our mysterious culprit was unleashed to wreak mayhem on flat walls. We know him as the Castle tagger. At home, he goes by “Rad Tad”.

“I was a sick cunt as a kid, so cunts would say ‘fuck you’re radical,’” said Rad Tad. And just to clarify: “It’s ‘Tad’ like ‘tadpole’, but without the ‘-pole’ because I’m not a stripper.” A perfect name to accompany the perfect crime. At home, Rad Tad is a “fucking celebrity”. Despite being used to the spotlight, though, tagging Castle flats seems to have exposed him to a little more attention than he’s normally used to. According to Rad, he was “flustered” to learn of the effect his antics had on Castle residents.

According to our culprit’s recollection, it all started at 601 Castle St. “After snapping a flower of a cone, I soon became overwhelmed with visions and frequencies. I sort of got this vision, and I felt like I just needed to make it aware to everyone else around me.” Just like the prophets of old, whenever Rad Tad gets a calling, he has no choice but to answer. “I thought, I haven’t come all the way to Re-O Week to put shoes on centipedes or hats on pigeons. Men used to go to war, and now they buy blueberry flavoured vapes. It’s time I liberate Dunedin with this spirit inside me.” 

The vision seemed familiar to Rad; he had seen it in his dreams. “It was like my purpose, almost spiritual. It was definitely not something my own mind came up with. It came to me like a frequency, or a message from somewhere in the galaxy.” Of course, of all the great artists across the centuries, none have been sober. Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Pollock: they all relied on the devil’s drink to ignite the creativity within. Clearly, Rad Tad understands the importance of following in the footsteps of our idols. “I can’t remember the night, I was off me fucking chop.”

When asked if he thought there would be copy-cats who would try to follow in his footsteps, Rad Tad was sceptical. “They can try. I can see people trying to copy my form, but my art is original.” However, he did acknowledge the existence of a tagger, who perhaps Rad sees as a worthy successor. “I’d like to make a shoutout to Ttoxx. He’s started popping up with his things.” Genius is not infectious, but it seems creative inspiration is. 

Rad Tad was unaware of how much his art would impact the residents of North Dunedin. “I quite like the cultural impact it’s had, it’s given everyone something to talk about. Otherwise, it's the same DnB every year that everyone pretends to like just to fit in.” A bold statement from a bold artist. Perhaps the residents of Castle should be thankful to have a fresh drop of culture, standing out like a Neuron in the murky waters of the Leith. 

While some may view his endeavours as a crime, he insists that it isn’t vandalism. “I give you something to look at and think about and wonder. It is a mystery. It’s art, that is all.” However, Rad Tad was keen to clear up one thing: there was no gang affiliation attached to his artwork. “I heard some rumours about it, that girls thought it was a gang thing, like marking flats. But it is far from that. It was just a form of art I was expressing.” 

Even after our far-reaching interview, Rad Tad’s story remains shrouded in mystery. Where did he come from? Where will he go? Does he have cotton eyes, and does his name rhyme with Poe? We may never get answers to these questions, but regardless, he is destined to live on in Castle’s culture; whether in oral tradition (“Hey bro did you hear…”), in drinking songs, or in Snapchat screenshots, lest we forget that fateful night on Re-O week. As a form of respect, Critic Te Ārohi decided to leave the last word to our mysterious tagger: “Coincidences are just God’s form of art, and this is mine.”

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2022.
Posted 3:05pm Friday 19th August 2022 by Anna Robertshawe.