Tributes pour in - but who really was Blanket Man?

  • 16/01/2012

By Jerram Watts

Wellington has lost one of its more colourful street characters, Ben Hana who became known as ‘Blanket Man’.

After 11 years on the street, Mr Hana died in Wellington Hospital yesterday.

The shaggy, blanket-wrapped figure is now gone from Courtenay Place, but his memory remains.

“He's not just a homeless man, he's Blanket Man. I mean, everybody knows Blanket Man here in Wellington,” says resident Mark Inzon.

He was known as Blanket Man to most - but Ben Hana or 'brother' to those who knew him.

“He lived a very public life but in fact he was a very private man, he didn't readily talk about his own thoughts or feelings,” Mr Hana's lawyer Maxine Dixon.

Mr Hana moved to Wellington from Tokoroa in the late ‘90s, saying he wanted to be a political activist for unemployed youth.

But he quickly ran foul of the authorities.

“Because the way I dress is different from the rest, I knew they'd target me as an alcoholic because that's who I hang out with,” Mr Hana once told media.

Mr Hana once famously dug up part of Parliament's lawn in protest, then took the shovel to his court appearance.

His health declined over the years - through a combination of poor nutrition and drug and alcohol abuse coupled with living outside.

“I'd hate to go inside a house…man that's not my life,” he once said.

Ms Dixon believes street life was a choice for Mr Hana after killing his friend in a drink-driving accident.

“He was punishing himself, doing his auto-penance,” she says.

Mr Hana was 54 when he died.

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source: newshub archive