Taupo-based apprentice Emma de Salis won a Plumbing World Scholarship at the national 2023 New Zealand Plumbing Awards, held at Te Pae Convention Centre in Christchurch on Friday 5 May.

Emma de Salis
Emma de Salis is smashing it! (photo credit: McBeth Plumbing)

Emma was nominated by Nina Andrews, a Director of McBeth Plumbing and Gas who are providing excellent on-job training for her plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying apprenticeship.

“Emma has joined the industry with transferrable skills from her years in property maintenance and management, farming, and school caretaking”, says Nina.

“During her working life, she found she enjoyed the complexity of plumbing and the plumbers that she dealt with were an appealing group of people.

“This became the motivation for her to start an apprenticeship and join the trade.”

Nina adds that 34-year-old Emma is practical and eager to learn. Emma plays an integral role in McBeth’s team culture, contributing to health and safety discussions, and offering business development ideas.

Emma has a positive approach to life and a genuine enthusiasm to be 'out there doing it'. She gives up a lot of her spare time as a local volunteer firefighter. While this can be physically draining at times, she gets a lot of satisfaction from being able to help others. She applies the same commitment to her trade as she does to her community work, and we have huge respect for her and the role that she plays.

- Nina Andrews - Director of McBeth Plumbing and Gas

Emma recently donated hours of work to McBeth Plumbing’s initiative to build off-grid shower units to help Hawke’s Bay residents affected by Cyclone Gabrielle.

McBeth Plumbing won the 2023 Outstanding Project of the Year at the NZ Plumbing Awards for the Cyclone Response Showers.

Emma de Salis shower
Off-grid showers built by McBeth Plumbing (photo supplied)

Emma carries out service and maintenance plumbing and gas work, mainly residential jobs with some commercial work thrown in.

Emma says, “I'm happy to be in maintenance. There's so much problem solving to keep you mentally engaged. I'm also incredibly happy to not be in a desk job.”

The moments that Emma is most proud of include when she has been given her own project with clients who have seen her develop from an apprentice into a tradesperson whose professional abilities they trust completely.

She gets great satisfaction from providing top quality service.

Emma is a strong role model for diversity in the plumbing trades. She passionately advocates for adult and female apprentices, and the unique skills that neurodivergent learners bring to the trade.

“It all contributes to developing a more diverse workforce with a brighter future.”

At this year’s NZ Plumbing Conference, Emma participated in the Women and Diversity in Plumbing Panel Discussion on the topic of Overcoming Stereotypes. She shared her experience as a woman in a male-dominated sector, saying “I don't think anyone would dare try and discriminate against me.”

Emma also spoke about her experience as an adult learner with ADHD. She has developed effective strategies for success and tricks for focusing on the task at hand.

She credits her Masterlink Regional Manager and mentor Russell Walsh for helping her understand the value of taking a moment to slow down.

diversity panel

Russell says that Emma has a natural talent and a passion for the trade.

“During her time as an apprentice, Emma has advanced beyond her apprenticeship training years. She has been operating in my opinion approximately 12 months ahead of her actual time on the job.

Her progression on the tools and academically has been impressive to watch.”

In 2022, Emma won the ‘Best Second Year Apprentice’ Award at the Master Plumbers Volcanic Plateau Awards.

Now in the third year of her five-year apprenticeship, Emma has also been awarded a Masterlink Outward Bound Scholarship to participate in a 16-day leadership course for construction industry apprentices this June/July.

Emma is also a finalist in the Apprentice category of the NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) Excellence Awards 2023. The winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Christchurch in July.

Russell has no doubt that Emma will be a significant contributor to the industry moving forward.

When asked what she would say to another woman interested in the plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying industry, Emma says, “Get in there with the right attitude, work ethic and passion for what you do, and you'll absolutely smash it.”

Emma wins a certificate and $1000 to spend at her local Plumbing World branch.

About Plumbing World Scholarships

Plumbing World Scholarships are awarded to Masterlink apprentices who have demonstrated diligence in their studies and a passion for the industry.

About the New Zealand Plumbing Awards

The New Zealand Plumbing Awards acknowledge the many positive achievements and success stories in the plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying industry. They are presented at a gala dinner on the final night of the annual New Zealand Plumbing Conference. Organised by Master Plumbers, the national conference has been held for over 100 years and is the premier event in the industry, with attendees coming from all over the country.

About Master Plumbers

Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers NZ Inc (Master Plumbers) is the national membership organisation for plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying businesses, with 18 regional Associations and Branches across New Zealand. Companies go through a Quality Assurance programme to become a member. Members are provided with a wide range of resources and training opportunities to support them in staying up to date with the latest technologies, products, and compliance requirements. Master Plumbers advocates on behalf of members and the wider plumbing industry. The association organises the annual New Zealand Plumbing Conference culminating in the prestigious New Zealand Plumbing Awards, which recognise excellence in the industry.