Wellington's 'Blanket Man' Ben Hana dies

Last updated 18:22 15/01/2012
STREET IDENTITY: Ben Hana, popularly called
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
STREET IDENTITY: Ben Hana, popularly called "Blanket Man", was a well-known personality on Wellington's city streets.

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Wellington street personality Ben Hana, more commonly known as "Blanket Man", has died.

Hana, 54, died in Wellington Hospital at 3.35pm today, a Capital and Coast District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed.

Authorities had become increasingly concerned about his health in the past few weeks.

It was not known what he died from. However, he was suffering medical problems stemming from heavy alcohol use and malnutrition, lawyer Maxine Dixon said.

Hana was famous in Wellington and further afield, with fans creating Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia internet sites in honour of "Blanket Man".

At least one song has been written about him and T-shirts emblazoned with his cartoon image have been sold.

During the debate over the proposed Wellywood sign near the airport, an image of Hana was suggested.

Hana's change from family man to homeless person was spurred, in part, by a series of personal disasters, including killing his friend while drink-driving. "[It's] something I can't talk about," he told the Dominion Post in 2010.

In June 2010 Hana faced cannabis and drinking charges in Wellington District Court and was ordered to be admitted to Wellington Hospital's psychiatric ward. When he returned to the streets he vowed to turn over a new leaf.

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- The Dominion Post

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