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As part of the Ōtepoti Dunedin Heritage Festival next month, festival co-ordinator Alison Breese will host a series of heritage walks outlining the history of Dunedin’s built heritage, including the toilets.
Ms Breese said she wanted to give participants on the walk an idea of what the Octagon might have looked like in the early 20th century.
So she contacted Otago Polytechnic bachelor of information technology students Kate Bull, Jaden Cooper, Joshua McFarlane and Shaun Blaauwbroek about putting together an app to help.
The app uses gaming software to help lead participants through the sites which used to host the toilets, and can be accessed on people’s phones or electronic devices.
"It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for some time," Ms Breese said.
"So getting these students together was really exciting. I would have these ideas and they would put them together really quickly."
Ms Breese said the underground toilets at the Octagon were built in 1909 and decommissioned in 1989.
"They were a hugely important part of the city’s superstructure — tens of thousands of people would use them," she said.
"They were also significant in that they were the first public toilets for women [in Dunedin]."
Mr Cooper said it was a challenge putting the app together in a few months.
"We hope people will learn about parts of Dunedin that no longer exist. I had no idea there used to be underground toilets at the Octagon. It’s kind of funny to think about.
"It’s fascinating what used to be there. I hope people experience and use it, and learn something."
"You’re basically able to time-travel back to 1909 in Dunedin, and recognise what used to be there," she said.
Ms Breese, who also works as an adviser for Heritage NZ, said she had been studying the city’s history of sanitation and in particular toilets for many years.
"In a way, these events will bring a chapter of my life to an end.
"But people are very interested in toilets."
The Ōtepoti Dunedin Heritage Festival runs from October 5 to 15.