Potentially deadly skyscraper selfies horrify authorities

Don't look down: The young men dangle their feet over Auckland's West Plaza Building
Don't look down: The young men dangle their feet over Auckland's West Plaza Building

DISBELIEVING Auckland office workers watched as youths risked life and limb taking selfies on the edge of an 18-storey building yesterday.

Police were called after the stunt on the roof of Auckland's West Plaza Building, which is more than 70 metres tall.

Jayne Ihaka and colleagues in the nearby ANZ Building watched in astonishment as the group nonchalantly sat on the roof, dangling legs over the edge.

"Normally you see people going up there doing maintenance and that sort of thing, but it was pretty clear that these guys weren't legit," Ms Ihaka said.

"They were probably just having a laugh, but it was a bit scary because anything can go wrong when you're dangling your feet over the edge."

Ms Ihaka said a colleague saw the group taking selfie photographs with their mobile phones.

"I'm pretty sure it's straight down [from where the group were sitting]. They probably thought it was hilarious but it wouldn't be funny if a body goes splat on Albert St.

"Maybe their friends on Facebook will be impressed, but no one in our office was."

Ms Ihaka said the group wandered to other areas of the roof, and were there for about 15 or 20 minutes until police arrived.

Senior Sergeant Chris Money, Police Northern Region acting shift inspector, said they were called to the West Plaza Building at 3 Albert St about 3.20pm.

police officers went to the roof and escorted the youths down. No arrests had been made but inquiries were ongoing, Mr Money said.

The West Plaza Building is one of Auckland's best-known high-rises and was completed in 1972.

The aerofoil-shaped white tower sits on the corner of Albert and Customs Sts. It is 74m tall, according to the Emporis website.

The commercial office building is owned by Tan Chee Hoe & Sons (PTE) Ltd, according to QV.


The trio were escorted down by police.
The trio were escorted down by police.

The maintenance manager, who declined to be named, said the owners did not have any comment to make.

Colliers International, which manages the building, also declined to comment.

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A young man who has been on the roof of the building said he was shocked the trio had ventured to the ledge, and had contacted them this morning to warn them against such potentially lethal behaviour.

"I had a chat to them and they just want to lay low," said the man, an 18-year-old student who didn't want to be named, despite acknowledging a high profile on social media for photographs taken from high buildings.

"They are fully understanding about it - it was actually their first time doing something like that - they spent too long up there," he said.

"I'm going to make a post tonight to say don't roof top, don't do it, somebody's going to get killed pretty soon."

He understood the trio were aged about 15 and 16, and from Waiheke Island.

He insisted his own photographs, including a 'selfie' of his legs dangling from a great height over central Auckland, had been taken legitimately from a hotel balcony and had not involved trespassing.

But he acknowledged having previously wandered through an unlocked boiler room at the top of the West Plaza Building to gain easy access to its "observation deck", where the other youths were photographed yesterday on its ledge.

He blamed the owners of that and other Auckland high-rises for not locking access to their roof-tops, given their popularity with youngsters.

"It's the building's fault, all the doors up there are open to the public," he said.

"Everything is open, nothing is locked, so they need to sort their stuff out."

"It's one of the most public roofs - so many people have done it," he said.

The man said he had take steps to restrict access to his photographs, and intended deleting any that could be taken as encouragement to others to take "stupid" risks.

When the Herald visited the building this morning, the door to the boiler room was still unlocked despite a sign on it warning of danger from high-voltage electricity and prohibiting unauthorised access.


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