Tauranga transport pioneer dies

Mount Maunganui resident and Strait Shipping founder Jim Barker is being remembered by transport industry members as a leader who changed the face of the New Zealand industry.

Jim passed away peacefully in his home at the weekend.


Mayor Stuart Crosby and Officer of the NZOM Jim Barker on the presentation of his order in May 2016.

“The New Zealand road transport industry has lost a true icon with the passing of Jim Barker over the weekend,” says Road Transport forum chief executive Ken Shirley.

“The legacy of what Jim achieved, not only with Strait Shipping and Otorohanga Transport, but across the entire industry will be felt for decades to come.

“He was instrumental in modernising the efficient movement of freight across the country,” says Ken.

“The thoughts of the Road Transport Forum, our associations and the entire road transport industry are with Jim’s family and close friends at this time.”

Starting in 1963, Jim and his brother-in-law bought Otorohanga Transport Ltd, a small general carrying company which went on to become one of New Zealand’s biggest locally owned and operated transport companies and now includes Stocklines, Freightlines, Bulklines and Streamline.

Experiencing problems transporting stock across the Cook Strait, Jim and partners bought a ship in 1992, the Straitsman, and Strait Shipping Ltd was formed.

The competition with the NZ Rail owned ferries led immediately to a massive decrease in domestic freight costs. In 2002 Strait Shipping expanded to include a regular and popular passenger service named after his wife Bev Barker which is called Bluebridge.

In late 2007 Otorohanga Transport Group restructured, bringing about the formation of the Jim Barker Group of Companies and encompassing Freight Lines Ltd, Manawatu Transport, Stock Lines and Strait Shipping. It has become one of the largest locally owned and operated freight transport companies in New Zealand.

Jim also introduced to the industry a driver training scheme and supported the introduction of the iShift transmission into New Zealand, contributing to a safer and more fuel efficient truck fleet.

Jim’s contributions to his industry and community include:

• the introduction of a driver training scheme to address a shortage of truck drivers;

• supporting the introduction of the iShift transmission in trucks imported into New Zealand, contributing to safer and more fuel efficient truck transport;

• a community support programme that contributes more than $120,000 per annum to a number of community groups;

• providing significant support to the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand, the Child Cancer Foundation, CCS Disability Action and the Kaipupu Sanctuary;

• providing support to those in need, through transporting supplementary feed for farming communities in times of drought, mining equipment following the Pike River mining disaster, and emergency supplies in response to the Christchurch earthquakes.

Jim Barker, a coal-miner’s son from Huntly, was born in 1938.

In his funeral notice posted on SunLive, Jim is described as a darling husband and treasured and loving father and father-in-law.

A service for Jim will be held at the ASB Arena, Truman Lane, Mt Maunganui, on Thursday at 1.30pm.

The service will be followed by a private cremation.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Waipuna Hospice, P.O. Box 1156, Tauranga, 3140 would be appreciated and may be left at the service.

All messages to the Barker Family can be posted via P.O. Box 9107, Greerton, Tauranga.


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