Tributes flow for 'Blanket Man'

By Paul Harper

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Wellington icon 'Blanket Man'. Photo / Jubalj
Wellington icon 'Blanket Man'. Photo / Jubalj

Tributes are flowing for Wellington's iconic character 'Blanket Man', who died in hospital yesterday afternoon.

Messages have been scrawled on a wall, and flowers, candles and other items have been left on Courtenay Place where the 54-year-old homeless man, whose name was Ben Hana, was known to sit.

A Wellington Hospital spokeswoman confirmed Mr Hana died in hospital at 3.35pm yesterday. She could not comment on what he died from.

Mr Hana was a well-known face who often sat or lay against shops and buildings in the central city.

He preferred to wear a blanket and a loin cloth, and was often sighted with an iPod.

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown said she was "very sad" to hear of the local personality's death.

"He was a very well-known character who obviously lived his life in a very high profile way."

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard McLean said it was too soon to say if the council would consider organising a memorial for him.

On Twitter, Wellingtonians and visitors to the city paid tribute to the Courtenay Place icon.

"RIP Ben Hana, Blanket Man you will be missed, thanks for the couple of koreros we shared," Max Dillon Coyle wrote.

"R.I.P blanket man. Nearly every day for three years we crossed paths. Blanket always in place. Other clothing, always optional...." TV3 reporter Amanda Gilles wrote.

"RIP Ben Hana. Let's make his memorial addressing homelessness in Wgtn, and it's causes, esp access to mental health and addiction services," Labour Party deputy leader Grant Robertson said.

- additional reporting Herald Online

- APNZ

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