Aiming for the top


Akida Shimamoto’s career is far from going down the drain.

The Hiflo Group plumber won the Southern regional final of the Young Plumber of the Year competition, earning a place in the national final in February next year.

Mr Shimamoto (27) beat nine other competitors in Queenstown last month for his chance at national success.

He was ‘‘stoked’’ to win the competition, having previously entered but come up short in 2019.

‘‘[I’m] a little bit overwhelmed, to be fair. I guess it’s one of those things where [you] weren’t really expecting it, but we’ll take it,’’ Mr Shimamoto said.

The plumber, who is now based in Twizel, said he learnt a lot of lessons from his experience two years ago and believed it helped create his success this time.

‘‘It really did. It’s not all about rushing and trying to beat the clock.’’

Mr Shimamoto, who was the 2019 Masterlink best apprentice in Otago, took part in 11 disciplines and a written questionnaire during the competition. He starred in the questionnaire, scoring 48 out of 50.

He loved being able to test his skill set and see what else was on offer in the industry.

‘‘The best part about it is being able to use different sorts of products that you wouldn’t usually use and also seeing some of the latest products for plumbers and customers,’’ he said.

As he prepared for the national final, Mr Shimamoto said he was looking forward to the experience, meeting new people in the industry and building a ‘‘good network’’.

Mr Shimamoto moved to Oamaru four years ago, and started his plumbing career in the North Otago town.

He saw a job advertised for an apprentice plumber at Hiflo and thought ‘‘why not . . . I’ll] see what happens.’’

‘‘Four years later — here we are. One thing I really enjoy it the variety of work that we cover and the people you meet.’’

Previously he lived in Kurow, Invercargill and Australia — ‘‘here, there and everywhere’’
— and worked for Alliance Group, both in Mataura and at the Pukeuri meat works.