jonsa12pMy name is Sarah Gallagher, I’m originally from Christchurch but moved to Dunedin in 1991 to study at Dunedin College of Education and the University of Otago. I came to Dunedin thinking I’d stay for 4 years, but stayed for 12, married a local and ended up leaving Dunedin with two masters degrees and a career in librarianship.

This project began in the year 2000 with a paper map and an SLR Pentax ME Super camera, but now relies on a smartphone, online mapping and social media to create, share and curate information about this ephemeral print culture that is the naming of student flats. You can find out more about the history of this project and examples of the flats and their context by checking out the exhibition, or presentations on the blog, or the map of named flats.

My intention with this project is to collect and verify the existence of named flats in Dunedin in order to be able to explore why names are created, what they mean, why the practice occurs and what we can learn about what’s important to the people that name them. Some of these names will be offensive to some people. Sexual themes do occur both in the names and imagery of some flats. My intention when listing or discussing these names is not to validate, celebrate or glorify names that may cause offence. My role is to record the practice of naming flats. As a researcher I need to look at all the evidence in an unbiased way in order to be able to discuss the content within the wider contexts of time, place and social behaviour.

I invite you to explore the blog, the home of the project, and delve into the wider community on Dunedin Flat Names Project Facebook group, or join the conversation on Twitter.

Sarah Gallagher @sarahlibrarina | @DNFlatNames


Flat Names playlist

Scan this playlist using Spotify


  1. Conor

    Hi Sarah I’m currently living at 208 Leith St and was wondering if you had any info on the crest/motto/letterhead that was originally printed?

    • flatnames

      Hi Conor, great to hear from you. I actually have a piece of the letterhead which was gifted to me by one of the original residents. The crest has a broom, book, rolling pin, spoon and frying pan with a Greek motto (there were several students of divinity in the flat so they learned Greek as well as Latin). The translation is “because of poverty”. I’ve not found where they had it printed unfortunately. I’m writing a book about the named flats (will be published in January) and hope to feature The Bach, it’s be great to visit you and your flat mates if that’s ok. If you want to see what the letterhead looked like, go to the publications page on this site and checkout the slides (2013) (slide 5 shows the letter head and Fergus Hume’s translation). My email is flatnames@gmail.com if you’re keen to catch up. Cheers Sarah

  2. Pingback: A social history of named student houses in Dunedin, New Zealand – University Histories

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