Dunedin Flatnames Project

Over time, a unique student community has developed in Dunedin.Students from this area are well known for their wild and crazy antics but what is less well known, is their unique practice of naming their places of abode.

Ref: AWNS-19260722-43-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Students have been naming their houses and flats since the 1930s and it has become an important and traditional part of the Scarfie culture in this area, which continues to the present day. The names reference popular culture and range from being puerile to profane and from humorous to more cerebral, with the use of literary references.

Over the years, students have made the signs from a wide range of materials – planks of wood, beer crates, bed heads, surfboards, skateboards, cardboard, hardboard, recycled whiteboard and in some instances have written directly onto windows using marker pens. The time and care invested by the students into the creation of the signs also varies, from elaborately painted and stencilled creations to messy scrawls.

Ref: AWNS-19280719-47-1, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Sarah Gallagher, Academic Liaison Librarian at the University of Otago is using social media to collect the stories around these flats. She is also writing book on the topic to record, preserve and commemorate this phenomenon.

Find out more by checking out the Facebok page, tumblr site and Flickr images.