More than a thousand people came to farewell transport icon Jim Barker at a celebration of his life.

Friends, family and business associates of the much-loved and revered Mr Barker passed through a truck guard of honour as they said their goodbyes at ASB Baypark yesterday afternoon.

Mr Barker, 77, passed away peacefully in his Mount Maunganui home on Sunday.

The extensive Barker family spoke of their love and pride for their father, grandfather and great-grandfather and the great loss his death caused for their family.


Mr Barker is survived by his wife of 56 years, Bev, his three children Maree, Sheryl and Peter, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Mrs Barker, who helped build the family's transport empire, said she and the family were overwhelmed with the turnout of people to the funeral.

"Jim always said life was about people and here you all are, there's so many of you here...

"Each of us have our own special memories of Jim but one thing we have in common is that we all knew he was always there for us when we needed support and encouragement," Mrs Barker said to the crowd.

They shared an amazing journey of life and love, spanning 60 years.

In their early courting days Mr Barker would travel from Rotowaro (near Huntly) to visit her in Raglan, usually accompanied by a group of his mates.

They had trouble getting past the local tavern though, and Mrs Barker would blast Elvis Presley's You Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog as she waited for her late date.

Many stories told by family and friends reflected Mr Barker's wonderful sense of humour and had the crowd laughing at the memories.

Everyone who spoke talked of how proud they were of Mr Barker - not only in the realm of business but in family and home life and his unconditional love for them.

James 'Jim' Barker 1938-2016
- Founder of the Jim Barker Group of Companies included Otorohanga Transport, Freightlines and ferry service, Strait Shipping (and passenger service Bluebridge Ferry)
- Earlier this year he was presented with an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2012 was inducted into the New Zealand Transport Industry Hall of Fame.