Mihirangi's near-death experience

MIKE ALEXANDER
Last updated 05:00 17/02/2013
Mihirangi Mihi
CLOSE CALL: X-Factor finalist Mihirangi Mihi had a near-death experience.

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Mihirangi Mihi had a near miss just past Death's Corner in Arthur's Pass in the South Island recently.

''We were coming down the mountain ranges in Arthur's Pass thinking how beautiful everything was,'' the New Zealand's Got Talent finalist said from Dunedin on Friday.

''We passed Death's Corner and I thought 'oh let's take a photo of that' and then I noticed the smell of smoke. I told Maui [Heke, Mihi's go-to man], who was driving, to pull over. 

There was a car ahead of us and we were on one of the steepest parts of the road. 

He just looked at me, shook his head and with a really serious look on his face, said 'we are not stopping'.''

The breaks had failed. The trailer which had more than a tonne of equipment in it had no breaks either, something they didn't discover until their ordeal was over.

''I literally squealed,'' Mihi said. ''It was so scary but I was more worried about my boys.''

Mihi was travelling with Maui, drummer Dylan Elise and sound engineer and tour manager Kyle Evelyn, five weeks into a national tour to promote the release of her latest album Somebody Shake The Tree.

''I told them that if we couldn't slow down then we were to bail and let the car crash.  Maui managed to get us into a lower gear and then another one and it slowed us down but we still couldn't stop. 

"The car in front of us obviously didn't know what was going on but if they had braked we would have smashed into them.  The scariest thing was having the trailer behind us pushing us down the hill. 

"We would have been crushed to death.  We finally managed to push it into park and came to a shuddering halt."

Once they'd stopped shaking, the continued on - very slowly - to Greymouth and then limped into Hokitika to get the car brakes checked and hire a new trailer that had brakes.

The car dramas didn't end there. Mihi flew to Auckland after their Hokitika concert on the Saturday to fulfil a previous engagement and the boys had to negotiated Arthur's Pass again on their way back, via Christchurch, to a gig in Dunedin on Valentine's Day.

Spookily, the radiator overheated in exactly the same spot in Arthur's Pass and once it cooled, the boys gingerly carried on, made it to the top and took it the car to a garage. 

They were given the all-clear to drive to Christchurch but the fuel line caught fire and the car is now sitting in a scrap heap.

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Car number two, again offered by a friend and given the all-clear, mechanically overheated on the drive from Christchurch to Dunedin and had to be returned to sender and a rental van hired.

''It's ended up being an incredibly expensive road trip.  The overheads are just incredible,'' Mihi said.  

''And then, on top of that, we had to change venues in Dunedin two days before the gig because we found out the venue had a noise restriction of 50 decibels.  To give you an idea of how low that is, we talk at 60db and a fridge hums at 40db.  It was absolutely ludicrous.''   

- Stuff

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