Six60 buys flat where it all started

The flat at 660 Castle St has been bought by the band that made it famous.

Six60 band members (from left) Eli Paewai, Chris Mac, Matiu Walters, Ji Fraser, and Marlon Gerbes...
Six60 band members (from left) Eli Paewai, Chris Mac, Matiu Walters, Ji Fraser, and Marlon Gerbes pose outside the Castle St flat from which the band took its name and which is now the new home of a student scholarship residency. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The infamous party street in North Dunedin could soon spawn more musical acts.

Six60 signed a scholarship agreement with the University of Otago yesterday at the new School of Performing Arts recording studio.

Four $10,000 scholarships will be offered each year to students aspiring to follow in the band’s footsteps.

As part of the scholarship, recipients will live at the flat, and could also receive mentoring from band members.

Lead singer Matiu Walters said the band had talked about buying the flat for years, but the partnership with the university now allowed it to "add to the culture that created us".

"When we were here, look, we were just hanging out with our friends, doing things for our friends. The street was packed with students and it was just such a natural progression for us. We just wanted to feed that fire.

"This building is so important to our journey and our history.

"For years we’d always talked about it flippantly, about the dream of owning it and being able to control the narrative around it, help kids who are like us kind of follow their dreams, find their purpose.

"And only recently were we in a position to help that happen."

University acting vice-chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson was thrilled people once part of the street’s party scene were now giving back to the university and community.

"It’s great seeing such warm and generous young men who want to give back ... to the university and the city who has made them famous.

"In my role I meet a lot of alumni of varying ages and, perhaps like many of us, we did things in our youth that we might not do now.

Residents of 662 Castle St (from left) Charlotte McFarlane, of Christchurch, Ruby Hamilton, of...
Residents of 662 Castle St (from left) Charlotte McFarlane, of Christchurch, Ruby Hamilton, of Queenstown, and Frances Galvin, of Auckland, (all 19) react to the arrival of Six60 band members next door at their former flat yesterday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
"The experience that they have at Otago, where they get to work and play together, really does shape them into the people they are in the future."

The band has said it would "forever" live with the tragedy of a balcony collapse that left a young concert-goer paralysed at a Castle St flat during an informal concert in March 2016.

Property records show 660 Castle St sold for $1.7million in March this year.

A university spokesman confirmed the university did not pay anything towards the purchase of the flat.

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