Sweet idea sours for southern super hero

Caped crusader's road trip for good

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 06:40 08/08/2014
Flatman
FAIRFAX NZ
CAPED KINDNESS: Superhero Flatman started delivering food to people in need after the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch.

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A Christchurch "superhero" has met his match at Wellington Hospital.

Flatman and travelling companion Kelly Dugan from SmileDial are working their way through the country to raise awareness of their individual charities.

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

Dugan, who has a daughter with disabilities, was prompted to create SmileDial after realising there was a gap in supporting families in his situation.

They left Stewart Island on August 1 to travel 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.

They visited Wellington Hospital yesterday, 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.

"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."

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. Fairfax NZ

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- The Dominion Post

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