Category: 1990s

The Cargill Street Commune on Cargill Street

It’s an appropriate name for a three storey house with 7 or 8 bedrooms – and in a shared living situation this size it’s a matter of either going it alone or pulling together a group.

It’s hard to know from the signs byline which way this flat leaned, but it could be either so long as everyone subscribed to the stealing=sharing philosophy. What was up for grabs is anyone’s guess. The flat was named in 2001 when Max Johns and his flatties first encounter it, it lasted through Max’s two year tenancy and at least another year after that.

Source: Pilar Cavina (used with permission), 2003


The Penguin on Leith Street

Those who were born prior to the late 1980s will remember this penguin from the Bluebird potato chip advertisements of 1989.

The Penguin flat features on Nathan Secker’s Scarfie Flats poster (2000) and in 2011 was judged to be the worst in OUSAs Next Top Flat competition, despite their cute kunekune pig, Chompers! Pig skins hanging on the fence were not related to Chompers and a Radio NZ interview revealed the the residents were all from hunting backgrounds and regularly supplemented there grocery items. The NZ Herald reported the residents had a problem with rats as they backed onto the Water of Leith.

“One of the boys had left his jersey in the hall and he noticed it was rustling. When he picked it up, four rats fell out from it and two ran down the stairs into my bedroom. We set gin traps up and later that night one went off in my room, then a moment later another snapped shut in the lounge. We caught some big fat rats.”


Penguin, Leith Street

Correspondence: from letters to emails, from letterhead to Facebook #flatnames

Letter to the author addressed to her at her named flat (1991)

Letter to the author addressed to her at her named flat (1991)

The means by which we correspond or communicate, in written form, has changed immeasurably in the last 20 years. Personally I barely put pen to paper, and when I do now, it is a card rather than a letter that I am usually writing. When I started University in 1991 I paid $50 a week for my room in a four person flat, and spent a further $5 a week on stamps.  I wrote long letters to friends and family, and received many letters in return, often addressed to me at my flat, Mouse House, at 888 Cumberland Street.

In the 1940’s the residents of The Bach, at 208 Leith Street, designed a crest and motto and had letter head printed. Examples of the letters written by Bachite David Gardiner, to the Board of Divinities, can be seen in the Presbyterian Archive at Knox College.

In the 1960s a flat called Che Choux at 64 Heriot Row (“Cabbage House”, named for the Cabbage Tree in the front garden) also had letterhead which was printed at the Christ’s College Press. Unfortunately there are no copies of the letterhead available in their archives.

In the early 1970s a flat called The Spanish Slum, 16-18 London Street, also had letterhead, though it is unknown where this was printed.

It is interesting to see the shift in personalisation of communication forms from a hard copy print environment, to the digital; from email, to social media where platforms like Facebook suddenly make it very easy to communicate with many people simultaneously. Where once flats went to the extent to have letterhead designed and printed, today’s students can easily set up a Facebook page for their flat. There are several examples, of this practice, such as The Chateau at 47 London Street, The V Flat at 97 Dundas Street and the 8 Man at 627 Castle Street.

Did you have letterhead or a Facebook page for your student flat, or do you know of a flat that had letterhead or has a Facebook page? If so, I’d love to hear about it.


Barcelona #flatnames