Flatman spreads cheer and chocolate

Last updated 20:56 07/08/2014
FlatMan
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
HERO WORSHIP: Anonymous Christchurch superhero Flat Man.

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A Christchurch superhero is blown away by a Lower Hutt school, but was kicked out of Wellington Hospital for breaching a "sweet-free" zone.

As four hospital security guards surrounded the young man on site today, it immediately became clear he wasn't a threat.

Rather, it was Christchurch's Flatman, spreading cheer and chocolate. 

For his latest adventure, Flatman and travelling buddy Kelly Dugan from SmileDial are working their way from Stewart Island to Cape Reinga to raise awareness of their individual charities.

Flatman started delivering food packages to students and families in need following the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. He works fulltime, but brings out the cape and mask after hours.

Kelly Dugan, as father of a daughter with disabilities, was prompted to create SmileDial after realising there was a gap in supporting families in his situation.

Starting at Stewart Island on August 1, the pair are travelling to the top of the country by August 15 on just $5 each a day for food, relying on kindhearted Kiwis for meals and accommodation.

Today, they visited Wellington Hospital, before stopping by two schools in Lower Hutt on their way to Palmerston North.

Flatman admitted he was rather casual in his approach -- "I do random acts of kindness" -- and turned up to the hospital with $150 worth of sweet treats to hand out without going through background security checks.

"I've gone through a lot of hospitals," he said, "It's always been fine.

"I handed a few things out to the receptionists, a few nurses, went up to neonatal, that was fine."

But according to staff, it wasn't fine.

"An official man came across and said hey mate, can you follow me?"

 

Flatman, dressed in his usual superhero suit, ended up in a room surrounded by four guards.

 

"Obviously word got around that a masked man was wandering around the hospital. Apparently you have to get security checks. I'm happy with that, it was a bit funny.

 

"They were concerned, they didn't know who I am. People obviously know who I am in Christchurch. Even if they don't, I'm handing out treats... I've been welcomed at banks. I'm the only person Air New Zealand has allowed to fly with a mask on. But no chocolates allowed at Wellington Hospital."

 

He was told the hospital was a "sweet-free zone".

 

On his way out, he spotted a car with a parking ticket. He dashed back to his vehicle, grabbed some cash and a chocolate fish, and made one woman's day.

 

Rata Street School in Lower Hutt was able to turn the day around for Flatman.

 

"That school was next level. We got there, and had an official welcome. They spoke in Maori and Samoan. About 300 kids all in this hall, singing, cheering, with masks with FM on them. They gave us baking. It was very cool."

 

Flatman says dealing with children is his favourite part of being a superhero.

 

"The kids factor - that's the biggest buzz. I love it. The importance of what you're saying to these kids is massive to them."

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He believes everyone can be a superhero -- "all it takes it kindness, generosity, and compassion".

 

Hospital spokesman Lindsay Davis was confused about the sweet-free zone, but said there was a healthy eating policy on site, and it was "plausible" someone handing out chocolates would be asked to leave.

- The Dominion Post

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