A former student recalls his days as an occupant of big rambling Dunedin house where a party ended in tragedy.
I remember the day clearly, the day we signed up for the notorious Dunedin flat, known as 'The Manor'.
It was in April - eight months before we would take over the lease of the flat. Seven boys signed on the dotted line, full of excitement as we were about to embark on the next step in our lives.
We knew the legacy and history that came with the 100-year-old flat, as well as understanding the reputation of the famous building, perched on the Dundas St hill.
When we moved in, there wasn't a sense of pressure or inevitability to have a party. It was more that we wanted to have a night with our mates, at our flat.
I remember going to a party at 'The Manor' the year before we moved in, to see what the flat was like more than anything. It was full; the DJ had everyone in the mood to cut shapes.
Everyone, there was having a good time - no dramas at all.
So we sent out the invitations, with around 300 people saying they would be attending. There wasn't a sense of worry with that many people saying they are coming.
With seven bedrooms, six of them the size of your average lounge, we had plenty of room. The small kitchen was closed off, as well as the lounge. The biggest room up and downstairs was cleared out, bedroom furniture packed into flatmates' room, then locked.
Safety was paramount.
The sound system hired from the local shop, DJ booth set up downstairs. At around 11.30pm we got our first noise complaint.
With the thought of a $300 fine, the DJ was turned off, and with no music going the masses of people slowly started disappearing.
By the early hours of the morning, it was just us as a flat with close mates sitting around talking.
The Manor is a flat steeped in years of history. With high ceilings, no insulation it was cold. Some referred to it as the coldest flat in Dunedin. However, for around $130-$140 each a week in rent, it was home for us.
A normal night in the flat consisted of one us cooking dinner, spag bol was a good go-to, while chicken burgers were a treat. The other six would sit around in the lounge huddled around the heat pump. We had the occasional poker night; if the rugby was on we were parked up watching it.
If it was exam period time, it would be a flat trip down to the library for study but mainly for the warmth. We liked a good night out, but when it came to study, the drinking was stopped not just by us but by the whole North Dunedin area. As students we knew the main reason we were there for.
The thing that we loved the most about The Manor was its balcony. Many an afternoon was spent up there looking out over North Dunedin. Crowds would wander past on their way down to Forsyth Barr Stadium, sometimes popping in for a beer on the way.
It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it before, how a house/flat in the freezing cold of Dunedin, can bring you together. We have memories that will last forever. We are now lifelong friends.
It is full credit to the boys that are in The Manor this year to call the police when they realised things were getting out of hand. It takes courage to shut down your own party, but they understood they needed help and did the right thing.
The flat could only hold around 200 people, if that. To send them all on their way was a big call to make, however, the right one to make. What happened next was a tragedy.
My thoughts are with the Crestani family, I can't even imagine what they are going through. It is an absolute tragedy. One that I am sure is a lesson not only to the Dunedin community but the student community throughout New Zealand.