About » History


Master Plumbers has a diverse history dating back to 8 January 1901. Find out more:

1901 - The original national organisation is formed to protect, develop and promote the interests of the plumbing trade. The first national conference is held in Christchurch on 8 January

1902 - The second national conference is held over five days in Dunedin, attended by almost all regional associations in existence at the time

1902 - The national organisation adopts the motto Salus Populi Suprema Lex (the Health of the People is Supreme)

1912 - The national organisation's lobbying for the registration of plumbers is instrumental in the passing of the Plumbers' Registration Act, which enables plumbers to practise their trade throughout New Zealand. The Act specifies that one of the Plumbers Board members must be a registered Master Plumber and is the forerunner of today's Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act

1913 - The newly formed 'Federation' of five regional Associations of Master Plumbers (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin & Invercargill) comes together on a national level to deal with industrial matters

1925-29 - National headquarters are set up in Wellington, then move for the next 18 years to Christchurch

1948 - The New Zealand Society of Master Plumbers and Gas Fitters Inc is officially incorporated on 27 January to become the national body, and the headquarters move back to Wellington

1948 - The first edition of Plumbers Journal is published and described as "a quantum leap forward"

1948 - The Apprentices Act makes apprenticeship orders by trade instead of locality

1948 - The James Douglas Medallion is introduced for the highest qualifying apprentice in the Registration Board exam. It is named after 1908 national president James Sandiford Douglas, founding member of the Otago Association and its president for a grand total of 24 years

1964 - At the national conference in Hamilton, it is resolved that Society members band together and take over an existing merchant, enabling them to provide discounts to Master Plumbers. On 28 September, the Master Plumbers' Merchants Society Ltd is registered as a cooperative, its name changing in October to NZ Plumbers' Merchants Society Ltd (and again in 1983 to Plumbing World)

1998 - The NZ Society submits a trademark for the words Master Plumber

2001 - Master Plumbers acknowledges 100 years of membership

2001 - Hokitika greenstone carver Glen Surgenor creates the 550mm high Centennial Trophy for the newly created New Zealand Master Plumber of the Year Award to mark the Society's centenary.

The trophy is carved from a single block of New Zealand pounamu from the Arahura river on the West Coast of the South Island, and is a three-dimensional representation of a plumber, based on a 1940s plumber recruitment poster. The pounamu is very special to Ngāi Tahu, who bless it when it is taken from the river. 

It was Surgenor's biggest work to date and took him three months to complete. 

2001 - The inaugural New Zealand Master Plumber of the Year Award is presented at the annual conference in Queenstown

2002 - Master Mentor Apprenticeships is established, which is owned by Master Plumbers.

2006 - The Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006 becomes law, superseding the 1976 Act

2009 - The Society headquarters move to their existing location in Ghuznee Street, Wellington

2016 - Master Plumbers launches its new branding, with the tagline Representing Excellence

2018 - NZ Plumber magazine, published by Master Plumbers, celebrates its 70th year

2019 - A new Queenstown Lakes District Branch is established

2021 - Master Plumbers team drive industry strategies for managing COVID-19 

2022Master Plumbers CEO Greg Wallace receives a Plumbing World Award in recognition of his outstanding service, loyalty, and commitment to the success of the New Zealand plumbing industry

2023 - The Centennial Trophy awarded each year since 2001 to the New Zealand Master Plumber of the Year is recognised as Taonga Paraihe o NZ Master Plumbers.

2023 - Master Plumbers CEO Greg Wallace receives a 2023 Association Influencer Award from the Australasian Society of Association Executives.

2023 - New Master Plumbers Northland Branch established

Past Presidents and Life Members

Master Plumbers acknowledges and celebrates all Past Presidents and Life Members for their tremendous commitment and contribution.

Past Presidents since 1974 (* denotes Life Members)

Year National President
1974-75 EC Shaw
1975-76 BJ O'Neill
1978-79 MB Cockburn
1980-81 AA Tolra
1981-82 LJ Russell
1984-85 PT Marshall
1985-86 GH Mander*
1986-87 JA Seamer
1987-88 HG Thomas
1988-89 AB Watkins*
1989-90 NW Thomas
1990-91 AR Withers
1991-92 GP Jackson
1993-94 AR Taylor
1995-96 R Daniel
1996-97 Brian Foley
1997-8 John Simmiss
2000-01 Phil Routhan
2001-02 Peter Faul
2002-03 Mark Whitehead*
2002-03 John Gutry
2004-05 Tim Park
2005-06 Trevor Helm
2006-07 Roger Herd
2007-08 Ian McDermond
2008-09 Doug Brennan
2009-11 Dave Strong
2011-13 Ray Galt*
2013-15 Bruce Trenwith
2015-17 Martin de Gouw
2017-20 Rod Miller
2020- Jon Lewis

Other Life Members include: O Marshall, C Harris, A Wallis, HW Martin, Ido DeBernardo, JM Wainwright and John DeBernardo.

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