Migrants Tales – No NZ Lifestyle For UK Plumber – updated

Continuing in our popular and ever expanding series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the immigrant experience of New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

Today’s story was sent in to the blog by Mat, a UK qualified Gasfitter and Plumber who also taught at Unitec for a period.

This is his story:

“Hi There

I am a UK qualified Gasfitter and Plumber and and have a story to tell that is now 6 years long, now culminating in a complaint concerning cheating and corruption against the PGDB which has resulted in an ‘independent’ (i dont believe that) QC currently carrying out the investigation into it.

I couldn’t, and wouldnt want to, recount the whole sorry saga of our migration to this country beginning in the UK in early 2004 (its been too painful and makes me too angry).

It would take days to put down all my opinions, experiences and feelings and i do not see it as beneficial to myself or my family.

However, if someone specifically wishes to ask for my advice on a matter etc. i am more than happy to receive their questions.

The only open comments i would make are as follows –

1. If you can run a business here, you can run one anywhere – a large percentage of people delight in breaking agreements, not paying their bills, and trying to get something for nothing. There is very little honour with regard to verbal agreements and for the first time in my life i have had to instigate written ‘terms of trade’ due to customers failing to pay accounts. In 10 years of running a limited company in the UK i had 2 people who argued over payment – in the last 6 months here i have had 6 people arguing / wasting my time over payment (no issues with the standard of work though!)

2. It is a country with developed world desire and a third world economy – a Kiwi mate of mine said that to me!

3. It is a country of greedy importers / leeches who scam their own people – people are getting ripped off by importers with everything they buy – copper is 3 times the price of the UK – the worst example i have found so far with regard to % increase on a product is 600% – the excuse being that it costs so much to get it here. With regard to that product i personally imported a box of 12 of that item (duty and freight paid)for the same cost as the importer wanted to charge me for one! That is sheer unadulterated greed and nothing less!

4. There is very little history / culture present here, but that is because the country is relatively young and you cant complain about that as you should have known about it in your research.

5. The outdoor life is fantastic – we sea kayak and have seen and done things that we never would have in the UK.

6. We work longer hours here for far less money.

7. This country has the same problems as any other country in the world – in some areas the problems are worst / in some they are better.

8. If you came here thinking that all your problems would go away you were naive – and we were in some respects.

9. Housing stock is poor and not designed to last more than 30 years without major refurbishment.

10. My first boss said to me when i asked him for a wage rise of $1 per hour to bring me up to $23 (I was earning 55 pounds an hour in the UK before i left in 2005)-

‘Mat, you come to NZ for lifestyle not money’

My reply to him was –

“There is fuck all lifestyle without a living wage!”

Kiwi bosses delight in suppressing their workers and not paying fair wages. Once again a third world economy but you will find a small percentage of individuals with vast wealth. I personally believe that the gap between rich and poor here is more vast than the UK.

11. What sort of country is it where it is cheaper to buy crap take away food than fresh ingredients?

12. The standard of education is appalling – i taught at Unitec for 3.5 years and was shocked at how low the standard was.

12. The average family goes camping for their holiday – some delight in this but the reality is that its because they cant afford to leave the country because from the very first dollar they earn they are paying tax at a high rate on low salaries.

13. The general Kiwi ethos is that we dont care how anybody else does it, we will do it our way – how ignorant and naive is that? but it is dressed up as Kiwi Ingenuity.

Someone (most likely a proud Kiwi) will undoubtedly slag me off for writing these points and being a whinging pom, but before they reply i would ask them to carry out some soul searching – have they ever lived outside of this country? (i have and know things could be better) – are they happy with their wage packet each week? (i am now i work for myself) – do they go camping but would like to go abroad and cant afford it? (im not counting the Gold Coast because that just a mini Las Vegas) – do they delay paying bills until the last minute? (i pay them when i get the work done) – do you watch programmes like Time Team and find them fascinating? (i do and cant wait until they are on again)

Its taken over 6 years to become marginally settled and i still long to go home on holiday, but sadly finances dont allow for a $10k family trip – I feel trapped in NZ but i selfishly hope in one way that when i do return to the UK it appears to be a dump and all the reasons we had for leaving are still there. That will make me feel like the nightmare we have gone through has been worth it.

Regards

MAT BOWMAN

Update March 5, 2014

Its my comment that starts this thread above so i thought it was about time to post an update on my ‘situation’ for all you people considering coming to the ‘Land Of The Long White Cloud’ –

I returned to the UK, for the first time, for a holiday with my family in 2013, and went to Cornwall, London and Colchester over a period of 3 weeks. Thoroughly enjoyed it, nothing had really changed, no worse than i remember, an increase in Eastern European accents in some areas, but not to the extent i had been led to believe, and i felt right at home. Summary – I could easily go back but i would miss the friends i have made here.

My children, now 17 and 15, could not believe how cheap everything was in relation to the land of the ‘Long White Rip Off’ – food, clothes, CD’s, building materials, you name it, they spent their time calling out ‘Dad, Dad, look at the price of this!’ Walking round Tesco’s was like being in Santas Grotto for them – Mars Bars at 50 pence not $2.50 (1.25). It became the joke of the holiday.

I still maintain we are being thoroughly ripped off in NZ by greedy importers. On this point I have to say that last week I was utterly amazed to find a company in Auckland, ‘D M Standen’ a height access / rope makers / climbing equipment suppliers, that supplied me with specialist abseiling / height access gear cheaper than i could get it in the UK! I was so shocked i almost fell over clutching my chest! The office manager explained to me that they make sure they sell their items at the RRP or below to provide a decent service to their customers – how unbelievably refreshing to hear! I have told so many people about that company in one week i cannot tell you and they will receive my loyalty and recommendation which is the way it should be. This only goes to show that it is possible to run a business and not rip your customers off – something that 99.9% of businesses here dont believe in!

Pain in the arse, delaying payment customers are still the order of the day, the week and the year here. I worked like a bastard last December (same every year) to make everyone elses dreams come true for Christmas; so that they could ‘show off’ to all their friends and relatives their brand new completed kitchens and bathrooms.

15 emails from one customer alone requesting my continued ‘guarantees’ that i would be there to fit their new gas cooker and 9Kg installation and new sinks etc before the big day. As soon as the work was completed i sent the bill, which was payable within 7 days. All communication their end ceased and payment became overdue. A reminder email was sent by myself. They disappeared on holiday and sent me a curt text telling me not to hassle them on holiday, and that they would address the matter on their return at the end of January. I sent another 3 reminders from January onwards, still no replies. Finally, following telephone conversations with all members of the family and the threat of debt collection I receive payment at the end of February this year. 8 weeks interest free credit!!!!!Interestingly enough these same people had just sold a block of land from the side of their property for $500,000 tax free!

My colleague, a successful Kiwi plumber and gasfitter running a company in Auckland, waited for 18 months to receive his final payment of $9000 for plumbing someones house in an affluent neighbourhood in Auckland. While he waited 18 months for his money he saw the same family buy a new car, build a granny annex, put in double glazing and a double front door, buy a spa pool, and go to Fiji for a 3 week holiday. How scurrilous in that sort of behaviour?

The reason i am ‘boring’ you with these stories is because this is what you are in for if you want to run your own business here. ‘Developed world desires backed up by a third world economy’. People want all the gizmos and fine living, but its based on them either not having the finance to back it up or not having the morality to pay for it. These people who delay payment and believe it is acceptable to use you as a free credit facility represent approximately 20% of your customer base and once again it is the wealthy that are predominantly the problem.

On to other matters; my fight for justice against the Plumbers Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board –

The ‘investigation’ into my complaint of unfair treatment lasted over 18 months, with the appointment of an Independent QC who conducted her own enquiries. The result was a 29 page report upholding every one of my claims as being legitimate, and in addition exposing more issues / failings on the PGDB’s part with regard to my case that even I had not been aware of.

For those of you that are interested, here are the exact final recommendations of that report –

‘FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS’

I have considered the interim findings which are set out at paragraphs 88 to 90 of this report. I have considered the matters which the Board has referred to and the response from Mr Bowman.

There are two recommendations which require addressing.

The first is the recommendation of an acknowledgement and apology from the Board. In the light of Mr Bowmans strong response to the interim report and the Boards response, I recommend that the Board make a full and public apology allowing Mr Bowman to see the contents of the apology before it is published.

The second relates to the waiver for Mr Bowman to sit the Certifiying Plumbers Examination.

Under section 52 of the 2006 Act the Board may grant an exemption subject to any terms and conditions that it thinks fit. I am recommending that the Board waive any further requirement for Mr Bowman to sit the certifying plumber examinations on the the grounds that Mr Bowman is at a standard required of certifying plumbers for registration. He has taught the relevant course for 3 1/2 years at the approved technical institute, namely Unitec; he has substantial United Kingdom qualifications; and he has his New Zealand experience of plumbing and gasfitting which demonstrates his knowledge and practical ability.

In the circumstances, Mr Bowman’s qualifications and personal circumstances, together with his relevant experience can give the Board some assurance that he is at the standard required of a certifying plumber.

Accordingly I make the final recommendations that the Board should action as follows;

A full and public apology regarding the failure to award Mr Bowman the Gasfitting Merit Award of Excellence in 2008.
If Mr Bowman makes an application under Section 52 of the 2006 Act to the Board to waive the requirement to sit the examinations to obtain registration as a Certifying Plumber, that the Board grant his application and exmept him from any of the terms and conditions imposed by notices published under Section 30 that would normally require compliance.
The Board should consider a payment to Mr Bowman, in its discretion under the 2006 Act, for any consequential loss suffered by Mr Bowman, as a result of the Board’s past historic actions, including payment for examination fees and courses.

THE ACTUAL RESULT OF THESE RECOMMENDATIONS WERE AS FOLLOWS –

The Board sent me a private, not public, letter apologising for its failure to award me the Gasfitting Merit Award of Excellence 2008 for the highest exam marks in the country.

They then printed a Newsletter in Sep 13 stating –

‘Matthew Bowman of Waimauku has belatedly received the 2008 gasfitting “Merit Award of Excellence and Top Mark Achiever” for achieving the top marks in the craftsman gasfitting examinations in that year. Matthew’s achievement is worthy of recognition within the industry and the current Board regrets that the award was not presented to Matthew following the 2008 examinations when it should have been.’

This new “Merit Award of Excellence and Top Mark Acheiver Award” was concocted especially by the Board and its lawyers to avoid the embarassing situation of the PGDB having to remove the original “Gasfitting Merit Award of Excellence” award from the Maori who was incorrectly / corruptly awarded it by the previously corrupt registrar Phil Routhan.

I dont consider they have complied with the QC’s recommendations. The apology wasnt really an apology. The letter apologising was private, the public statement used the word ‘regret’ which to my mind isnt really an apology, and they certainly didnt consult me or let me view the apology before it was printed.

The first thing i knew it was happening was when i got home and found a sodden package had been dropped behind my fence by the post lady and in it i found a framed certificate, the private apology letter, a cheque for $1000 for prize money, and a mention that a statement would be appearing in the September 2013 Newsbrief on the PGDB website.

I still refuse to take part in any more of their corrupt examinations on principle. They will not award me my Certifying Plumbers qualification, with no strings attached, as per the recommendation of the QC; even thought I taught apprentices here for 3 1/2 years and have proved my extensive qualifications. They stated in one letter to me that their responsibility is to protect the health and safety of the public of New Zealand and that they have to be “assured that Mr Bowman is at the standard required of certifying plumbers before registering hm as such”.

With regard to any “payment for consequential loss suffered as a result of the Board’s past historic actions, including payment for examination fees and courses” they considered this matter at their June 2013 meeting for about 5 seconds, no maybe 3 seconds, and decided NO to any payment; once again going against the decision of the independent QC.

So in summary, do i think I have been fairly treated as a result of the Auditor General’s Report into the PGDB and the handling of my complaint by the Independent QC?

Well, morally I have won my victory. I have proved my point that the PGDB, like any governmental appointed body, are a bunch of lying, cheating, conniving, corrupt, vapid, spineless, shiny arsed, empire building, bureacratic wankers! But I knew that before I started out on this ‘adventure’.

Have I received a satisfactory outcome?

Not really…

An inadequate legally constructed apology of sorts, prize money of $1000 six years late with no index linked inflation, still no real recognition of my experience and qualifications in the form of a Certifying Plumbers Licence, and no compensation to take into account the 6 year battle to re-qualify to a lower standard and to prove what i knew to be right all the time – that well trained British Gasfitters and Plumbers are undoubtedly superior to their New Zealand counterparts.

Hopefully this will give some ‘food for thought’ to any poor bastards who decide to go the same way i did and come and live in New Zealand.

It is definitely not the land of milk and honey, but there are enough ‘rough’, and i do mean rough, tradesmen out here to guarantee you a reasonable living putting their shite work right!

Happy migration……. Just make sure you bring enough money and a fucking big sense of humour with you!

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7 thoughts on “Migrants Tales – No NZ Lifestyle For UK Plumber – updated

  1. Big thanks for the update Mat, living and working in New Zealand is definitely hard work and has its own unique set of challenges that’s for sure!.

    Your original post has been updated to include the latest developments. Good luck for the future, and ‘Illegitimi non carborundum.’

  2. Its my comment that starts this thread above so i thought it was about time to post an update on my ‘situation’ for all you people considering coming to the ‘Land Of The Long White Cloud’ –

    I returned to the UK, for the first time, for a holiday with my family in 2013, and went to Cornwall, London and Colchester over a period of 3 weeks. Thoroughly enjoyed it, nothing had really changed, no worse than i remember, an increase in Eastern European accents in some areas, but not to the extent i had been led to believe, and i felt right at home. Summary – I could easily go back but i would miss the friends i have made here.

    My children, now 17 and 15, could not believe how cheap everything was in relation to the land of the ‘Long White Rip Off’ – food, clothes, CD’s, building materials, you name it, they spent their time calling out ‘Dad, Dad, look at the price of this!’ Walking round Tesco’s was like being in Santas Grotto for them – Mars Bars at 50 pence not $2.50 (1.25). It became the joke of the holiday.

    I still maintain we are being thoroughly ripped off in NZ by greedy importers. On this point I have to say that last week I was utterly amazed to find a company in Auckland, ‘D M Standen’ a height access / rope makers / climbing equipment suppliers, that supplied me with specialist abseiling / height access gear cheaper than i could get it in the UK! I was so shocked i almost fell over clutching my chest! The office manager explained to me that they make sure they sell their items at the RRP or below to provide a decent service to their customers – how unbelievably refreshing to hear! I have told so many people about that company in one week i cannot tell you and they will receive my loyalty and recommendation which is the way it should be. This only goes to show that it is possible to run a business and not rip your customers off – something that 99.9% of businesses here dont believe in!

    Pain in the arse, delaying payment customers are still the order of the day, the week and the year here. I worked like a bastard last December (same every year) to make everyone elses dreams come true for Christmas; so that they could ‘show off’ to all their friends and relatives their brand new completed kitchens and bathrooms.

    15 emails from one customer alone requesting my continued ‘guarantees’ that i would be there to fit their new gas cooker and 9Kg installation and new sinks etc before the big day. As soon as the work was completed i sent the bill, which was payable within 7 days. All communication their end ceased and payment became overdue. A reminder email was sent by myself. They disappeared on holiday and sent me a curt text telling me not to hassle them on holiday, and that they would address the matter on their return at the end of January. I sent another 3 reminders from January onwards, still no replies. Finally, following telephone conversations with all members of the family and the threat of debt collection I receive payment at the end of February this year. 8 weeks interest free credit!!!!!Interestingly enough these same people had just sold a block of land from the side of their property for $500,000 tax free!

    My colleague, a successful Kiwi plumber and gasfitter running a company in Auckland, waited for 18 months to receive his final payment of $9000 for plumbing someones house in an affluent neighbourhood in Auckland. While he waited 18 months for his money he saw the same family buy a new car, build a granny annex, put in double glazing and a double front door, buy a spa pool, and go to Fiji for a 3 week holiday. How scurrilous in that sort of behaviour?

    The reason i am ‘boring’ you with these stories is because this is what you are in for if you want to run your own business here. ‘Developed world desires backed up by a third world economy’. People want all the gizmos and fine living, but its based on them either not having the finance to back it up or not having the morality to pay for it. These people who delay payment and believe it is acceptable to use you as a free credit facility represent approximately 20% of your customer base and once again it is the wealthy that are predominantly the problem.

    On to other matters; my fight for justice against the Plumbers Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board –

    The ‘investigation’ into my complaint of unfair treatment lasted over 18 months, with the appointment of an Independent QC who conducted her own enquiries. The result was a 29 page report upholding every one of my claims as being legitimate, and in addition exposing more issues / failings on the PGDB’s part with regard to my case that even I had not been aware of.

    For those of you that are interested, here are the exact final recommendations of that report –

    ‘FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS’

    I have considered the interim findings which are set out at paragraphs 88 to 90 of this report. I have considered the matters which the Board has referred to and the response from Mr Bowman.

    There are two recommendations which require addressing.

    The first is the recommendation of an acknowledgement and apology from the Board. In the light of Mr Bowmans strong response to the interim report and the Boards response, I recommend that the Board make a full and public apology allowing Mr Bowman to see the contents of the apology before it is published.

    The second relates to the waiver for Mr Bowman to sit the Certifiying Plumbers Examination.

    Under section 52 of the 2006 Act the Board may grant an exemption subject to any terms and conditions that it thinks fit. I am recommending that the Board waive any further requirement for Mr Bowman to sit the certifying plumber examinations on the the grounds that Mr Bowman is at a standard required of certifying plumbers for registration. He has taught the relevant course for 3 1/2 years at the approved technical institute, namely Unitec; he has substantial United Kingdom qualifications; and he has his New Zealand experience of plumbing and gasfitting which demonstrates his knowledge and practical ability.

    In the circumstances, Mr Bowman’s qualifications and personal circumstances, together with his relevant experience can give the Board some assurance that he is at the standard required of a certifying plumber.

    Accordingly I make the final recommendations that the Board should action as follows;

    A full and public apology regarding the failure to award Mr Bowman the Gasfitting Merit Award of Excellence in 2008.
    If Mr Bowman makes an application under Section 52 of the 2006 Act to the Board to waive the requirement to sit the examinations to obtain registration as a Certifying Plumber, that the Board grant his application and exmept him from any of the terms and conditions imposed by notices published under Section 30 that would normally require compliance.
    The Board should consider a payment to Mr Bowman, in its discretion under the 2006 Act, for any consequential loss suffered by Mr Bowman, as a result of the Board’s past historic actions, including payment for examination fees and courses.

    THE ACTUAL RESULT OF THESE RECOMMENDATIONS WERE AS FOLLOWS –

    The Board sent me a private, not public, letter apologising for its failure to award me the Gasfitting Merit Award of Excellence 2008 for the highest exam marks in the country.

    They then printed a Newsletter in Sep 13 stating –

    ‘Matthew Bowman of Waimauku has belatedly received the 2008 gasfitting “Merit Award of Excellence and Top Mark Achiever” for achieving the top marks in the craftsman gasfitting examinations in that year. Matthew’s achievement is worthy of recognition within the industry and the current Board regrets that the award was not presented to Matthew following the 2008 examinations when it should have been.’

    This new “Merit Award of Excellence and Top Mark Acheiver Award” was concocted especially by the Board and its lawyers to avoid the embarassing situation of the PGDB having to remove the original “Gasfitting Merit Award of Excellence” award from the Maori who was incorrectly / corruptly awarded it by the previously corrupt registrar Phil Routhan.

    I dont consider they have complied with the QC’s recommendations. The apology wasnt really an apology. The letter apologising was private, the public statement used the word ‘regret’ which to my mind isnt really an apology, and they certainly didnt consult me or let me view the apology before it was printed.

    The first thing i knew it was happening was when i got home and found a sodden package had been dropped behind my fence by the post lady and in it i found a framed certificate, the private apology letter, a cheque for $1000 for prize money, and a mention that a statement would be appearing in the September 2013 Newsbrief on the PGDB website.

    I still refuse to take part in any more of their corrupt examinations on principle. They will not award me my Certifying Plumbers qualification, with no strings attached, as per the recommendation of the QC; even thought I taught apprentices here for 3 1/2 years and have proved my extensive qualifications. They stated in one letter to me that their responsibility is to protect the health and safety of the public of New Zealand and that they have to be “assured that Mr Bowman is at the standard required of certifying plumbers before registering hm as such”.

    With regard to any “payment for consequential loss suffered as a result of the Board’s past historic actions, including payment for examination fees and courses” they considered this matter at their June 2013 meeting for about 5 seconds, no maybe 3 seconds, and decided NO to any payment; once again going against the decision of the independent QC.

    So in summary, do i think I have been fairly treated as a result of the Auditor General’s Report into the PGDB and the handling of my complaint by the Independent QC?

    Well, morally I have won my victory. I have proved my point that the PGDB, like any governmental appointed body, are a bunch of lying, cheating, conniving, corrupt, vapid, spineless, shiny arsed, empire building, bureacratic wankers! But I knew that before I started out on this ‘adventure’.

    Have I received a satisfactory outcome?

    Not really…

    An inadequate legally constructed apology of sorts, prize money of $1000 six years late with no index linked inflation, still no real recognition of my experience and qualifications in the form of a Certifying Plumbers Licence, and no compensation to take into account the 6 year battle to re-qualify to a lower standard and to prove what i knew to be right all the time – that well trained British Gasfitters and Plumbers are undoubtedly superior to their New Zealand counterparts.

    Hopefully this will give some ‘food for thought’ to any poor bastards who decide to go the same way i did and come and live in New Zealand.

    It is definitely not the land of milk and honey, but there are enough ‘rough’, and i do mean rough, tradesmen out here to guarantee you a reasonable living putting their shite work right!

    Happy migration……. Just make sure you bring enough money and a fucking big sense of humour with you!

  3. I have given up trying to understand plumbers and plumbing code in NZ. As a consumer it makes no sense to me…UK was simple easy and made common sense!

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