Bay of Plenty transport operator Bert Watchorn dies

1 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 15, 2020

New Zealand lost a true legend in the road transport industry on 9 May 2020 with the death of Bert Watchorn.

Born 15 July 1930 in Stratford, Bert spent his early years on a farm in Taranaki with his family, but by the age of 17 he developed passion for trucks and started driving an old GMC logger for his older brother. 

Around 1952 he began driving for Sarjant’s Transport, and in 1953, he bought a small transport company at Pongakawa, just out of Te Puke.

Having grown to a four-truck business, in 1963 he and five other operators formed Te Puke Transport. By 1977 he had acquired a three-truck business and a shingle pit, and eventually took over the total shareholding of Te Puke Transport.

In the early 1980s he bought two logging trucks with contracts, and the stock cartage was sold on and the logging side of the business grew, alongside general freight.

At its peak, Watchorn Transport had 25 trucks. In 1997 the business was sold and Bert concentrated on his collection of about 150 classic vehicles. He also set up a rally for classic commercial trucks, now known as the Long Lap and run by the Northern Classic Commercials club.

Bert was 89 and died at the Bob Owens Retirement Home in Tauranga. He leaves behind wife Leslie, children Cynthia, Philip, Robert, Michelle, Toni, and Andrew, nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.