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Blanket Man rates as RWC tourist attraction

Sep 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

FOR at least some Rugby World Cup tourists, there is a Wellington attraction that rivals the rugby – Blanket Man.

But Wellington City Council says despite such interest, it would “never dream” of exploiting him as a tourism draw.

Here for the start of the tournament, Australian tourist James Kinna wanted to see Ben Hana (Blanket Man) after hearing stories about him from travelling Wellingtonians.

“I wanted to see him, because I found him intriguing and the rumours surrounding him interesting,” says James.

“I thought of him as an attraction, whilst also doing the touristy things in Wellington.”

Ben Hana’s style of street life, consisting of a trademark blanket complementing a pair of court-ordered underwear, is fascinating other foreign visitors, as well.

Australian Betty Wallace was at a loss as to describe exactly why Blanket Man is famous, yet she was impressed by how locals treat him.

“It’s interesting how tolerant the locals are of him and the way he lives, and how famous he became just by being homeless.”

Social networking has expanded Ben Hana’s global reach, with Australian Lachlan Wallace saying he discovered Blanket Man through Facebook.  There is a dedicated page boasting more than 23,000 fans.

“I wanted to see him because he has a good story behind him and he’s a Wellington icon,” says Lachlan.

However, he was unsure as to what was true and what was fabricated: “I would like to know the real facts behind blanket man, where he came from and where he is going.”

Despite a certain satisfaction in being able to put a face to the stories, those seeing Ben Hana up close and personal tend to be subdued.

“Seeing him was sad and surprising,” says Betty Wallace. “That somebody so badly off lives like this in an affluent capital city.”

While some tourists may view Blanket Man as an attraction, Wellington City Council has no interest in actively promoting him.

“To be honest, we would run a mile from the proposition that Mr Hana be used as a ‘tourist attraction’,” says Wellington City communications manager Richard MacLean.

“The idea is at best tasteless – and we would never exploit a person’s lifestyle in such a way.”

Rather, they would encourage Rugby World Cup tourists to enjoy many of the more positive attractions that Wellington has available.

“While we all know of his cult status, we also know that Wellington has a hell of a lot of other things to offer and intrigue overseas visitors.”

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is a journalism student at Whitireia who likes nothing more than a good scoop. Except for maybe a double scoop.
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  1. Dear Mr Nick Gray
    I read your article about Blanket Man of Wellington with great interest. I thought the article was very balanced and showed people’s thoughts for and against Blanket Man residing on the streets in Wellington. Thank you for a most interesting article.

  2. When Blanket Man was incarcerated at ward 27 to convert him to wearing black shorts before being allowed back on the streets of Wellington they asked him why he came to Wellington:

    Ben answered: To start my own business……

  3. Great article & have been following Mr. Blanket Man for a while now and thanks to some relative? (Name will keep disclosed!)
    We here in Sarasota have our own street dwelller and local side-kick. Known as ” Shopping Cart Man.” He resides in Sarasota, Florida and we do believe, he is “infact” Blanket-Man’s, long lost cousin in the USA! Old shopping cart man, lives on the street and within our front stores, during most days. He’s easaly spotted to, with not only 1 but 2, pully assembled shopping-carts and piled high! The man has now a sleeping bag and more gear, to move from the truck depot & dumpster to, a local tree in some nearby neighborhood.
    He wants to live this way and has been helped by local officials, people in the neighborhood and amny, many other’s. He’s got clothes and is now fully operational, with 2 carts and a night-time light!
    Blanket Man in Wellington might have a Web Site but, our “Shopping-Cart Man is doin’, A Hell of a lot Better in Fla!
    Go Blanket Man and buy some new duds! And geta new act going and soon!
    “Shopping Cart Man” Sarasota!

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