UK Qualified Plumbers, Beware

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the immigrant experience of New Zealand, gathered from locations around the net.

The following tale was recently published on an expat NZ emigration forum and tells of a common problem experienced by tradespeople in New Zealand – that of their overseas experience and qualifications not being recognised by employers.

Hi,i moved to new zealand 5 years ago as a qualified uk plumber.

Many other uk plumbers are here ,what the immigration dont tell you is that are standards are not good enough for this commonwealth country,even though the plumbing was based on the english system, it used to be recorgnised and uk plumbers could come and work and earn a good living.

Me and a few other plumbers i no have to do re-training which could take up to 4 years to get qualified,as someone else mentioned,the immigration want people into the country just to get the revenue and once we’re here and in the system they dont care about us.

I have a friend who is out of work because he i has no plumbing qualifications even though he is fully qualified in the uk and was college tutor,he is about to loose his dream house,the dream for him and many other doesn’t last long,new zealand wants us here just to get our money and then they dont care.

my advise to anyone thinking about coming here is check it out very thorourly and maybe go to australia for a better lifestyle ,many new zealanders are leaving for a better life.

(edited to add paragraphs)

44 thoughts on “UK Qualified Plumbers, Beware

  1. I had a Kiwi plumber work on my laundry tub. The next time we did a wash, the house flooded because the plumber had not reconnected the washing machines waste pipe back to the drain.
    At what point of a ‘good plumbers’ 10 year training are they taught to reconnect any pipes that they may have taken apart?

  2. NZ plumbing involves plumbing drainage gas roofing solar irrigation pumps filters wood fire installation new builds renovation maintenance welding it takes at least 10 years experience to become a good plumber.

    • True. Elsewhere there are specialised professions to do different aspects of work that involves all these manners of work. They specialise and work to a high degree. Before leaving NZ my work put me in charge of many trade contractors and I generally found the quality of workmanship to be rather lacking. I found the best most honest contractors to be foreigners. I also got quite tired of kiwi tradies telling me how poor quality the imports were. I didn’t give my opinion as it would very easily offend, hackles would be raised and the work atmosphere would be a powder keg of agression. Best to just smile and ask if they could just work a bit quicker.

      • NZ is a small country. Unless you live in one of the big city’s here you can’t specialise in one aspect of plumbing. We need to do it all to have work all year round. I’m not saying the UK workmanship is no good I’m saying that in NZ you will be expected to do a variety of work and unless your willing to learn new skills your going to be on labourers rates.

    • A bit late for reply but hey, if you are going o comment at least make sense with what you spout…excuse the pun……a uk plumber cannot work on gas unless they have trained in that field….that is the law, drains are done by builders in the uk as builders charge less and to be honest any monkey can glue pipe together and apply common sense to allow correct function of drainage…..drainage being the operative word here, its only the fact that PGBD want to rip genuine tradies off from the uk whom are fully competent, not saying that all are, of course there are the ones that are not fit to practice in any field, it makes me laugh here as being a uk plumber 4 year apprenticeship served and being very hands on i see there are tilers, guys that turn up in a van who fit the glass for showers, yes that really is true,i as a tradie in the uk i tiled, fitted showers, gas fires, wood fires, copex linings,plumbed out new and old houses, gas cookers, central heating, fitted kitchens, complete bathrooms,windows, installed,booster pumps,irrigation pumps,accumulators,installed cylinders,low pressure,mains pressure,take fed,pressure reduced fed,open vented,valve vented,and why you feel you need to attack copper with 3000-4000 degree celcius temps god only knows, and it is not welding, it anneals the copper, makes its weak, just solder the thing,and the croxing of copper, that stretches the wall of the copper, and makes a weak point,and takes far to long to do, just use a bloody olive,they are cheap and they work, i did all my own gib stopping, my electrics which were then certified by friends who knew of my competence in all i did and knew if i was not competent i would not attempt,i do all my own woodworking, i have carpet stretchers to enable me to put carpets back after i have had floors up for pipework, i employed people, i did work for my local councils, my local police force, my local mayor never had to advertise and was always busy, plumbing is plumbing,gas is gas, application methods the same, working pressures differ country to country, materials and pipe sizing,ID-OD,i have been here for 6 years,been plumbing and gas fitting for 23, i am exempt under supervision according to the bullshit that the PGBD stipulates when really from what i have seen its one guy that signs off all the work for everone else in a firm….legal loophole i think is the polite term, i should take my registration but a part of me thinks….no why the fuck should i, i have earned my title by merit and experience so just give it to me, i get sick of reading twaddle from kiwis who think they are better tradies than i am just because i am english, my studies as a pom were far more in depth than you guys have to do as kiwis, i see the true abortion attempts at central heating, the design,application,controls all an utter mess, then customers are saying to everyone central heating is crap,when in reality their installation is crap , and their kiwi installer was more suited to pre piping an out of the box stonewood home, the PGBD is a shambles, like the old style of gas regulatory body in the uk…..Corgi……we in the uk used to call that organisation the dog with no teeth…….yes i guess you read this and thought this guy thinks he is good, well yes actually i do, i take pride in my work, i take care of the customer, always punctual,always honest and it pisses me of when i read crap like what is on this site, regardless of when it was written

  3. NZ plumbers are versitle. We need to do plumbing gas drainage solar heating systems roofing. Most UK plumbers are no good at drainage. You can train them up but a lot of guys come and go down here in Queenstown so unless you are serious about staying in NZ your not going to get paid much more than a labourer.

    • I am not a plumber and therefore not qualified to comment on the aptitude of plumbers in various countries. I have never found the UK house construction standards particularly good compared to the continent. However, New Zealand is truly in its own category insofar as the quality of construction is appalling. I find it comical that New Zealand would discriminate against building professionals from other countries. I suspect the underlying reason is that the insiders want to protect their turf through not recognising credentials and the parasitic accreditation entities want to fleece the migrants.

  4. Uk plumbers are generally not up to speed on what is required in NZ. I’m in Queenstown and we have had a lot of people from the UK who are qualified but are about as good as a 2nd year apprentice that has started out in NZ. If they stay around they can be good enough to work after a year or so but they really struggle with out some guidance.

  5. thank you for informing and letting others know the truth
    what about if some have diploma in plumbing city and guilds
    I am in Africa in Zimbabwe what is your advise to me

  6. Hello
    Why do you poeple complain ? , i’ m Romanian very good plumber in my country with qualifications and experience, i ‘ve been in Uk for a better life better money, and you authorities says that my qualification in plumbing and gas its not valid and i have to make again the school .. whitch its around 6000£ .. so dont be stupid to believe than uk its the midle of the univers .. every body has the sa hunger for money and nobody care

  7. Funny thing is, it’s all the same just under a different lable.
    Dimensions for structures>people are the same.
    I built a set of steps with an apprentice. He did them metric, I did them in foot and inch. They were identicle. Building is building and plumbing is plumbing and electricity is electricity. Very few MINOR differences. The “regs” are just a smokescreen to get a few $.

    • I figure the biggest problem a competent handyman can face is adulterated supplies or tools (material composition).
      “Each site has been visited by a Firth representative to test the (faulty) concrete and assess the need for remedial action. In approximately half of the cases no action will be needed and the (faulty) concrete will remain in place.”

      That takes the cake, I wonder what will happen there in the event of an insurance claim or sinkhole.

      • Even more lulz about the faulty concrete, it has been discovered within the University of Auckland.
        Peter Fehl, the university’s property services director, announced that part of the new 11-level 23,500sq m block would now have to be demolished.

        The issue
        • Firth concrete delivered to many big Auckland sites was too weak.
        • Not enough cement had been added to the mix so the concrete would never harden to the required strength.
        • Tests were carried out on the big sites to ensure engineering standards were met.
        • Those tests identified the issues, which Firth and its parent Fletcher Building admitted.

        It looks like some people are suffering the issue of “quality fade” … with their local products

        The interesting thing about “quality fade”, is that it is something usually associated with “low cost manufacturing countries”.

  8. What a load of crap! The Reason for this is because you don’t know the New Zealand and Australian AS3500 standards just like I don’t know your system ! I worked with a British plumber in Wanaka and he was not up to speed with the rules and regs as I wouldn’t in the u.k

    • You must no doubt believe that the “New Zealand standard” is superior. After all, no First World builder has ever worked with houses that lack insulation and leak on the inside because the construction is so poor. These First World tradesmen need “local knowledge” gained in New Zealand to allow them to forget how proper tradesmen do things in the First World.

  9. NZ plumbers “manipulate” the pipe instead of using fittings. To couple two pipes togeather, one pipe is stretched to fit over the other instead of using a coupler fitting. that stetching makes that joint weaker. Elbows, “T”, and anywhere the pipe deviates from straight, is done by cutting an brazing, instead of using a fitting.
    The only explaination for this is due to the lack and cost of fittings, other means to manipulate the pipe was sought. Pipe fitting with fittings is quick and easy, only requiring a solder sweating of the joints together, but requires a supply of fittings that are expensive [here]. Make due with what you have, “she’ll be right, mate”.

  10. From an American perspective:
    Hot water heaters, in the States, last on average 5-15 years. This is because the captive pressure and the heating cycle “flexes” the tank, weakening it till it fails. This is just something that happens.
    Low pressure hot water heaters use head pressure, hence the tall “vent” pipe extending through many roofs. The height of water column determines the tank pressure. The tank does not hold captive pressure. Low pressure water heaters last longer because they do not go through that expansion/contraction cycle. The only reason that I can figure for the low/high water system is durability/economic reasons, low pressure water heaters last longer.
    Almost any water utility will have either tower tanks that are fed by pumps to maintain pressure, even in the flattest areas. Water pressure does vary according to altitude, though seldom have I seen 8-10 bar [8-10×14[1 atmosphere?]. That sounds way too high. That would be 110-140 psi. Most that I’ve seen are between 40-60 psi [what ever that works out to in bar or kpa]. That’d be 3-4 bar. [40/14.5=2.8 60/14.5=4.1]

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  12. Hi Mandy, my advice is the same as the original poster’s. Go to Australia, more work, better money and a far better lifestyle and climate. There’s a website forum called the people there will be glad to help you out.

    • Hey buddy this is correct what the kiwi plumber has said

      “The water pressure in the uk rarely gets over 3bar (300kPa where as nz it can be up too 8-10bar (800-1000kPa)”

      The water mains can get up to 1000kpa but we put pressure limiting valve at house to limit pressure to 500 kpa.

      Sorry to here you are having problems in nz it does get better was born and trained their as a plumber. Now working in the uk “london”. I Am enjoying it but it is hard to get use to “just get it done” attitude here plus traffic.

      I agree materials are a hell of a lot cheaper in the uk. But I disagree with some of the comments in nz we do things to last because we can’t afford to re do them like in the uk. I have been shocked with some of the plumbing I have seen in (London) Why is there no plumbing inspections for jobs . As this results in people taking short cuts .
      I will give credit to my English mates I work with they do pretty well with how little they got taught. As for me I had an experienced plumber that looked over my sholder for 4 years. And my uk friends were luck if they had 6 months with someone before they were sent out on there own.

      I agree our codes are very strict but that is the standard we want to keep.
      We don’t want to take short cuts even if this cost more. This enables NZ and Australia to have good trades men . I am shocked at how tradesman are looked down to in the uk where as in NZ and Australia we are treated better.

      But I want complain much the uk Is a beautiful country.

      I do hope it gets better for uk tradies. Here’s a question for you how do I go about transferring my NZ qualifications over to the Uk I know for gas I just have to pay money and set a test but not sure about plumbing any help would be appreciated .

      • @Mike: You and your New Zealand tradies are a joke. I do not happen to like the cheapness and shabbiness of much of the British construction, but Kiwis have found a way to worsen the product. Tradesmen in Australia and even more so in New Zealand are a joke. Much of the New Zealand construction is condemnable in most First World countries.

        It amazes me how you could have such a chip on your shoulder.

  13. Hi, I’m a kiwi and have been living in the UK for the past 15 years. We (my husband, young son & I) are looking to move to Auckland in Aug 15. My husband is NVQ2 qualified since 1999, gas safe etc. Is he best to do his NVQ/BTEC level 3 before coming over? Any advise would be much appreciated as we don’t want this to be a huge mistake…
    Many thanks in advance

    • As i have said already, NONE repeat NONE of your UK Quals mean a thing here. I believe it costs you $3000? per trade (gas and plumbing) to be ‘assessed’ – good luck😄

  14. Great post!! I hope people from the plumbing profession will get great help from this post.

  15. Hi Mat,
    I know it has been a while since you wrote your opinions, but I have to tell you I felt such relief when I read it….I began to think it was just us, and having been buggered around by NZ Immigration for so long we had now viewed this country in such a different light. I wonder if I could ask some advice.. My son is a qualified plumber in the UK having completed his apprenticeship and been quailified for 6 years. What is the equivilent qualification in New Zealand.
    Once again I thank you for your honesty…too many people come here with what they want the place to be and not how it really is.
    My email address is
    I will also write to you email address given above.
    Many thanks. Karen

  16. Sorry mat for your experience. Nz is not what it used to be, it no longer seems to be a british colony and is fast turning into a super expensive asian country. Many of the new asian immigrants are buying up all the businesses, assets and farmland, making it impossible for the local nz’ers to compete. Laughing how the propaganda says that it’s a good thing.

    • Why are you blaming up Asians for your plight ? Asians are also humans, not a second class race as they have been branded here.

      Blame your ‘white’ leaders if they allow crony capitalists to buy your ‘sheep’ farms out here. Normal hardworking Asians are at the same receiving end here in NZ as normal white kiwis are.But even though they are struggling they are working even harder towards education and building businesses. While the white kids are getting pissed drunk and bunking college classes, the Asian kids are doing maths and science.

      Please stop being a cry baby and maybe you folks can strive to be better parents and better humans first. Just an empty jibe about ‘Asian invasion’ doesn’t do any good to NZ. British Imperialism is long over, even the ‘Britons’ know it for fact. The next century belongs to us Asians/Indians and we will take it from lazy white plight like you through ‘hardwork’ only.

      At the end of the day, my buddy, its about who works harder, not the color of your skin. And Asians/Indian will beat you guys at your game. Just wait for the next two generations to come. Read this, open your eyes and learn to integrate

  17. 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.




    • hi mat.
      i know it was a while ago that you wrote your blog.
      I’m a single 31 year old plumbing/gas/heating engineer with fifteen years experience in the trade.
      I am at the start of trying to emigrate to NZ on a skilled migrant visa, just wondered if i could ask you a few questions with regards to your experience??

      kind regards ed

    • “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.”

      Mate, I’ve been here five years, and I have been back to England at least once every single year. This is my second stint living here (I was here from Oct. 1990 to Jul 1996 aswell) but no matter what England is going through, it is still so much better than this hell hole. We are fortunate. We are not financially tied to this nightmare of a place and its hideous troglodyte people. Whatever it was about England that made you want to leave and come to the horror of NZ, you’ll find that it was never as bad as you imagined it to be now you have the misery and horror of being trapped in this hick-town hillbilly cheating, conniving, loud mouthed, big-headed, arrogant, cretinous, ill-educated, uncultured, thin-skinned shambles of a place. And I live in Auckland. Lord knows how much worse it is once you get to the parts where it would seem (and I have heard it whispered) that love between siblings is, ahem, excessively close. Just a few more weeks and we’re home, never EVER to return.

      Oh and by the way, kiwis, Peter bloody Jackson didn’t write Lord of the Rings – his pitiful films are based on BOOKS (I know, I know – no kiwi has ever picked up a book, Jackson had the stories told to him orally). And they are written by a quintessentially ENGLISH man. Yes, ENGLISH. And ‘The Shire?’ Well I hate to have to tell you (I don’t hate it really – ha ha ha) that it is based on STAFFORDSHIRE. In ENGLAND, you morons. You don’t own The Lord of The Rings. You just have the dubious honour of RUINING its greatness. Your rotten film versions are very much ‘number 8 wire’ versions. Cretins.

      • Auckland ha ha ha no wonder your depressed! Come to the South Island we maybe hicks but we welcome anyone and we aren’t greedy like aucklanders ! NZ is what you make of it I go boating and fishing most weekends and work to live a great lifestyle

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