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Jock Atkins was, for 50 years, a roadman on the Akatarawa Road. A character, an eccentric and a toiler. Jock never had a day's sick leave or been laid up all of his working life. He was dedicated to the job and frequently cleared slips from the Akatarawa Road even at the weekend and in the evenings so that the locals could get through. Jock died in 1997 at Horowhenua Hospital. For 50 years he daily traversed the hilly Akatarawa Road on his bicycle with an accompanying dog and shovel to clear slips, drains and culverts. Jock retired from his job 31 March 1982 but was initially denied a retirement grant of 26 weeks pay which his long service would normally have entitled him to because he had not been with the Upper Hutt City Council for 10 years. Mr Atkins started his long stint on the Akatarawa Road with the Public Works Department and was transferred from the employ of the Hutt County Council to Upper Hutt City Council with a boundary adjustment in 1973. After some hesitation, the Upper Hutt City Council recognised that there was an anomaly in Jock's case and sought legislation through the Minister of Local Government at the time, Mr Highet, so they could pay him the maximum retirement grant of 26 weeks pay under the Gardeners and Labourers Award. He eventually got what he was entitled to, $4,212 - he was originally offered only $500. Jock was a real hard case, he lived in a one room shanty with few amenities and little other company, except for his black dog and an old horse called Para (Parachute, a retired race horse), although it was rumoured locally (but unverified) that he did, from time to time, have some female company and had been married at some stage . At work on the road, Jock was, apparently, immune to the honks and greetings from passing motorists. He had the habit of carrying on shovelling and supposedly ignoring passing traffic but through the rear vision mirror one could see him stooped over, looking under his arm to see who had passed, whether they honked or not. He also had a very short fuse which apparently got him into a bit of strife from time to time, both with his neighbours and the local constables. Old Jock, as he was affectionately known in spite of his shy and somewhat abrasive character, was a collector of old Mini Minor cars, probably for spare parts, to keep his own old "Morry" going. On his retirement, Jock received a congratulations letter from the Prime Minister, Mr Robert Muldoon. Soon after retirement, Jock moved, along with his horse and dog, from his shack north of Moss Green Garden, 17km. from Brown Owl, up the Akatarawa Road, to a small cottage on a corner section (next to a Mrs Spillar and opposite the railway subway) in Manukau Horowhenua. He proceeded to build a number of sheds to house his horse etc. - improvements not entirely appreciated by his neighbours! Locals also said he had a near obsession which compelled him to paint the cottage roof very often, a situation completely out of keeping with the appearance of the rest of the cottage, shed and section and his age - he was in his eighties! A keen horse racing fan all his life. Jock was a regular at Foxton races where he seemed to be well known and it is perhaps from this association that his acquaintance with Robert Muldoon stemmed. Sometime in 1996 Jock became ill and was admitted to Horowhenua Hospital. He was there for some time and was visited once a week by his next door neighbour, Mrs Spillar, who brought him sweets etc.. She was on occasions, roundly told off if she missed a visit. Mrs Spillar's kindness was in spite of her dissatisfaction over many years at the state of Jock's section. Jock died in 1997, 88 years of age. The locals put on a very nice funeral and he was seen off well. Although Jock was obviously a character and different from most, the funeral was in keeping with New Zealand rural tradition and was extremely well attended. Some months after his death, Mrs Spillar received a very unexpected cheque for $200 from Jock's estate. The house in Manukau was purchased from the estate in 1998 for refurbishment and resale by Mr Tony Beaumont. The dog, horse, sheds and all outward signs of Jock are now gone. But what does survive, is the memory of Jock and the remnants of the improvements to the Akatarawa Road that he made. The results of the hard sweat and toil of conscientious work with pick, shovel and bicycle. A little stone wall here, a neat culvert entry there, a deep ditch yonder, an old drain that still works and that little waterfall that he was working on. There was little call and even less response for noisy, expensive equipment then. For those of us that still remember Jock, most would like to believe that the road was better then. It's still worthwhile to give a honk. He is probably round the next bend.  
This is about Jock Atkins. Our old roadman who did a great job on the Akatarawa Road for half a century. His rewards were not great. I thought it would be nice to put this up so he is not entirely forgotten.

Jock Atkins 1909 - 1997

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