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Hawke's Bay plumber wins top national apprentice award

19 May 2023
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Hawke’s Bay plumber Tyson Kihi has been awarded the industry’s top national apprentice award at the 2023 New Zealand Plumbing Awards, held at Te Pae in Christchurch on Friday 5 May.

Tyson came relatively late to a plumbing career at the age of 29, having spent the previous 11 years as a freezing works employee.

Watching a TV news item about the desperate shortage of skilled plumbers was the turning point for Tyson, who wanted a new career path that would provide a secure future for his partner and their growing family.

In a leap of faith, he decided to give up his job and income, and the very next day he signed up for a Level 3 plumbing pre-trade qualification to learn the basics of plumbing.

He thought this would this give him a good taste for plumbing and would also show a potential employer his commitment to the trade, as he was concerned that they might be reluctant to take him on as an adult apprentice with no previous experience.

He needn’t have worried. Within a week of starting his studies, he was identified as a standout and was then taken on as a full-time apprentice at Advanced Plumbing HB in Hastings.

Five years on, Tyson is at the end of that apprenticeship and ready to step out into a career as a fully qualified plumber, who is respected for his outstanding, high-quality workmanship.

Tyson thrives on exceeding the expectations of his colleagues and his clients and inspires others in his workplace to do the same.

After Cyclone Gabrielle wreaked devastation in the Hawke’s Bay this February, Tyson was out every day from dawn to dusk helping with the clean-up and recovery work to bring some respite to desperate homeowners in his local community.

He now leads Advanced Plumbing HB’s teams in reinstating services to damaged properties in the region.

Having worked in the freezing works all those years, doing the same task day in day out, Tyson loves the variety of work in his new plumbing career, where problems always need solving and no two jobs are the same.

He’s also gone from living with his family in a sleepout to buying a home for him and his fiancée and their four boys.

“I’m 100 percent following a better path in life,” he says.

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