Six60 Concert Resident: “We Knew It Wasn’t Safe”

Six60 Concert Resident: “We Knew It Wasn’t Safe”

The neighbouring resident to the flat where a balcony fell during last week’s Six60 concert has said they knew there was a risk hours before the party begun. Though the day ended in tragedy, precautions were taken to prevent overloading of the balcony.

“While we were pre-drinking we saw the balcony was going up and down and we all told each other no more jumping, that was from about 2pm. [From then] we knew not to jump anymore because we could see [it wasn’t safe]. 

“Two o’clock, 100 percent, we knew [it wasn’t safe]” says the Castle Street resident who wished to remain anonymous.

Due to the acknowledged danger residents of the flat decided to restrict entry to the balconies. According to the resident, the doors and windows in many of the flats had been shut and locked in an attempt to limit people standing on the balconies.

“[The door] wasn’t locked the whole night but at most times to keep people out. We were making sure that not too many people were on there. Especially random people that came we would tell to get off. It was just our close friends. This was such a cool night for us and we didn’t want people we didn’t know up there. As the night went on I guess more people came up. We had the door locked so more people couldn’t come up because the property manager told us” she said.

However, it was clear residents of the shared property were unhappy with the how the events were portrayed in recent media reports. Another neighbouring resident who did not wish to be named said there was no jumping going on immediately prior to the balcony collapse, despite media reports to the contrary.

“No one was jumping at the time that it fell. You know in the media people are saying there were 30 people jumping up and down, it’s not true. Everybody is blaming it on the students drinking, on Six60, on the Police, but the fact is that could have happened any day.”

Police have been criticised in the media for not making more of an effort to reduce the danger, however residents of the flat say that Police were aware of the potential danger and were making an active effort to reduce it.

“The cops came up to our balcony like four times. The police didn’t have to be there. They helped us so much. [The Police] didn’t come around till the party started going off. I was in on the balcony closest to Six60, the cops came up to our balcony at least 4 times, because we were most vulnerable to the people underneath.”

When asked how many people the residents of the flat believed the balcony could hold they conceded that the landlord had warned “6 to 8”, however they thought the practical weight could hold up to 20.

The Minister of Housing Nick Smith has initiated a Government inquiry into the incident saying clarity around the structural failure of the balcony needed to be established. In a recent press release Dr Smith said the investigation would examine the design and construction of the balcony.

“We need to establish whether the balcony that collapsed was up to the standards required by law under the Building Code. Structural failure of buildings are rare in New Zealand but every incident of this sort needs to be thoroughly investigated to establish whether there were failings and whether our building systems are working as they should,” Dr Smith says.

“The investigation needs to look into whether the design, construction and maintenance of the balcony was up to the required standard, and to establish why it collapsed. It is possible that the balcony did meet standards but that the loading from the large number of students on it was in excess of what the Building Code requires. I am open to all possibilities but want to ensure we do everything possible to avoid these sorts of building accidents.”

This article first appeared in Issue 3, 2016.
Posted 11:20am Sunday 13th March 2016 by Henry Napier.