Artist: Peter Nicholson, Whitianga Repainted – 2013

Year: 2004-2005/2013

Medium: Acrylic on Concrete

Size: 12 sq m

Roads were atrocious and service cars were the only public transport for Katikati people in the 1920s. Drivers made every effort to help people reach their destination and this mural shows Les Hume with a record load of 21 people in his 8-seater car.

Local legend says he was headed for Waihi, already with a load of passengers, when he stopped to cram in more passengers into the car at the Athenree corner. Ten people were squeezed on to the seats, 4 sat on the hood, 2 stood on each running board with 1 on each mudguard and another astride the bonnet. Les said he never knew how the tyres took the load.

Passengers would have had to walk uphill and call instructions to the driver who had only a limited view of the road. Brake pads were not enclosed in drums in those days – they became caked with mud and often failed to operate so drivers simply opted not to use them. Locals wisely avoided the Athenree Gorge with its hairpin bends when the service cars were on the road.