Hall of Fame Inductee 2015
Born in Gisborne on the 15th of March 1927, Bernie was a top intermediate pupil in 1939, educated at Gisborne High School.
He began trade as a fitter and turner in 1942, buying his own metal truck in 1952.
With his brother Angus as partner, he began a business that grew to its maximum. Location was moved to Te Karaka in 1955 when they bought the carrying business off A E Law.
Over the years, two more trucking firms were bought out and the business of Gordon Church was incorporated. Gordon’s son Graeme Church married Bernie’s daughter, Denise, and the two carried on the family business.
Family and community were of vital importance to Bernie and he was the driving force behind the Te Karaka Volunteer Fire Brigade, Te Karaka Volunteer Ambulance, Civil Defence and the group which lobbied to get a water and sewage scheme for Te Karaka.
With his wife Patricia, Bernie ran the Ambulance Service for the Te Karaka district and was also active in the volunteer fire brigade. He was a foundation member of both organisations and served as vice president and president of the Ambulance Service of which he was a life member.
Bernie spent 6 years as treasurer for the local primary school and was an active member of the businessmen’s group, always with the aim of getting a better deal for the Te Karaka community at heart. Bernie’s services to the community were recognised with an MBE in 1981.
He served on the Gisborne Harbour Board until its restructuring to the present Port Gisborne concept. He was a member of the Poverty Bay East Coast Road Transport Association from the time he started his business. For 25 years, he was a committee member, serving several of those as president and vice president on two different occasions.
Regardless of his personal business, Bernie always put the interests of the association and its members ahead of his own. In a similar way, he was equally fair to both staff and clients, often working through the night to ensure his motto “service” could be maintained.
In 1993 he was made a life member of the local association in recognition of his services
to the transport industry in the district.
He also made his mark on the national transport scene serving on the New Zealand Road Transport Associations council from 1978 to 1990. Work on the legislation committee of that body made him widely known throughout the country.
His wife predeceased him in 1982. Bernie died in March 1995 at the age of 67 and is survived by son Bernie and daughter Denise Church and four grandchildren of Te Karaka.