Tutor Spotlight: Tony Putaura, Plumbing and Gas-fitting

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Tony is a Wellington local and one of our passionate plumbing tutors based in Petone. He’s also a former student of Whitireia and WelTec, having studied plumbing back in 2008. He’s come back to teach and share the skills he’s gained through his experience in the industry.

We spoke to Tony about why he decided to teach, the skills taught in the programme, and pathways for plumbing students.

Why did you decide to become a tutor?

I wanted to give back to the community. I'm originally from Wellington and I wanted to share my skillset with the people here.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching?

The look on their faces when they learn something new! It’s that sense of achievement, and then seeing their confidence improve after that.

I love it when you start to see the class really getting along. They start out shy and timid, but as it goes on, they eventually start relaxing and the atmosphere in the classroom does too.

What experience do you have in the area?

After completing the pre-trade plumbing course at Whitireia and WelTec, I went to Hamilton for a year, then moved down to Christchurch. There I got into a range of work, particularly with the rebuild. I also worked on the Justice Precincts and Christchurch Hospital. After working for about 8 years, I decided I wanted to come home and give back to the community.

What sort of skills are taught in the programme?

Everything in the course is designed to get them into an apprenticeship.

We use a sandpit to learn how to install drains, sink pits, septic tanks and manholes. We do a bit of gas work, like on gas elements and gas stoves. Students also learn how to install a bathroom from start to finish.

We also get into the legislation side of things, including regulations and license categories. Health and safety, how to read plans and how to act professionally are also covered.

It’s approximately 60% practical, and the rest is theory. In the real world it’s usually 90% practical, and the theory parts are done by the guy in the office, but it’s good to have an awareness of the theory so you have some wider context, even if you never end up doing it in your real job.

How long is the programme?

The Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying is 22 weeks, Monday to Wednesday, from 8am to 4pm.

What pathways are there for students?

After completing the programme, students are equipped to enter an apprenticeship with confidence. The industry is desperate for plumbers right now, so it’s not hard to find one.

Once they get into an apprenticeship, it will take four years to get qualified. Usually it’s five but this programme knocks off a year. They are fully qualified after they’ve completed their apprenticeship and passed the Plumbing Gasfitting and Drainlaying Board Licensing exam. Two years after that, they’re able to sit the PGDB Certifying exam. Then they have the experience and qualifications to do what they want, like starting their own business.

Study Plumbing and Gas-fitting at WelTec

Start your career in plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying. Learn the basics under the supervision of our experienced tutors, in environments reflective of real-world worksites.

New Zealand Certificate in Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying

Get prepared for an apprenticeship with our plumbing certificate. Install drains, plumbing fixtures, water pipes and more. Understand the theory behind the practices and get trained in first aid.

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