Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

Chch's first superhero here to rescue hungover students

Flat Man comes to the aid of Canterbury students in need, like those who have just had their flats trashed in a party. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Flat Man comes to the aid of Canterbury students in need, like those who have just had their flats trashed in a party. Photo / Geoff Sloan

By day, he's an unassuming student juggling essays with a part-time job.

But by night, he dons a face mask, leotard and cape to transform into Flat Man - a superhero who creeps around the shadows of the Canterbury University campus and halls in the dead of night to come to the aid of students in need.

The mysterious masked man has emerged from the dust of the earthquakes to deliver food and beer parcels to fellow students who have fallen on hard times, or had their flats trashed after hosting massive parties.

No one except his own mother knows the true identity of the secretive Flat Man, and he goes to extreme lengths to keep it that way.

"I tend to deliver late at night, in the early hours, to keep it all secret and maintain my identity," he tells APNZ, dressed in his Canterbury-inspired red-and-black homemade costume.

"I plan it pretty carefully, drop the parcel and run, leaving just a note and my Flat Man logo in chalk on their doorstep.

"My flatmates have no idea what I'm up to and when I go out on a mission, I have to take my stuff and change into Flat Man around the corner in my car."

The university student, from Christchurch, came up with the idea last year after being inspired by the Student Volunteer Army work in the wake of the city's earthquakes.

He wanted to do something to help the students, especially after the city's 18-25 population lost many of its leisure facilities in the shakes, including nightclubs, music venues, and bars.

"Students turned to house parties and they've been getting out of hand and shut down, or flats trashed. So I thought I'd do something to help those guys who are essentially doing a public service by hosting parties, but becoming worse off for it."

Since last November, he has delivered food parcels, which usually include household basic items like toilet roll, laundry powder, washing up liquid, but also some treats - "always chips, coke and chocolate" - to more than 15 city flats.

"The first flat I helped had hosted a massive party and the place got absolutely trashed, with stuff stolen and food eaten. I decided to help so delivered them a book of goodies and it's just gone from there.

"I do all sorts of things. Recently, I put $20 in a library book and put it up on Facebook, with the first person to find it keeping the money.

"I've also got a competition running on Facebook at the moment, 'A good keg for a good deed', and I'm encouraging people to upload videos of people doing good deeds."

All of the Flat Man stunts are funded from his own pocket, and have already cost him hundreds of dollars.

And although he would welcome a donor or sponsor to "help me do even more", he's comfortable with chipping in his own cash.

"I just want to share the love in Christchurch and hope that by helping people, it will encourage others to look out for each other."

He has designed his own Flat Man costume, lighting bolt logo, Facebook profile with more than 750 followers, and slogan: 'Be a bruv, share the luv'. He's even planning to get a Flat Mobile and a Flat Signal.

While attending student parties, as himself, or walking around campus, he's overheard people asking, 'Who is this Flat Man dude?'

But he said the growing phenomenon is all dependent on maintaining his secret identity.

"Christchurch hasn't had a superhero before. If I did it as myself, I wouldn't get the audience and attention to get bigger.

"But with the character, people can really get behind it and relate to it. I can put the attention on the character and not myself, and that works."

- APNZ

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