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No pipe dream .. Dairy farmer-turned-apprentice plumber Daniel Warren is achieving in his new field. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

Who will be New Zealand’s next top plumber?

It looks like he lives right here in North Otago.

Oamaru plumber Daniel Warren has been awarded the Master Plumbers of Otago and Southland top stage 3 apprentice award.

It is the third time he has picked up the top industry award from his apprenticeship course at the Southland Institute of Technology.

Mr Warren (30) only took up his apprenticeship with Hiflo Plumbing three and a-half years ago, and has consistently won the top awards in his class.

He even represented the region at the recent national finals of the Plumbing World young plumber of the year, beating 800 other candidates nationally to place in the top 10.

Mr Warren said there was a fair bit of pressure at that event in Hamilton with more than 150 industry people all walking around closely watching his every move.

“It was almost like a plumber’s worst nightmare – having people look over your shoulder while you are working,” he said.

They were testing him and all the other candidates on their practical skills and specific knowledge of plumbing.

A late starter in the trade, Mr Warren moved from a family dairy farm background into plumbing, but he is not the oldest in his class.

“I’m more mid-range in age at SIT as some apprentices are older than me.”

He said the staff and other apprentices at Hiflo made it a fun and enjoyable workplace.

“We all help each other out and share information, share the travelling down to Invercargill and study knowledge,” he said.

Mr Warren said the travel could sometimes have an impact. While working for many weeks at a time on a luxury build project in the Ahuriri Valley, he has had less time to work on his own big project – building a new home on Oamaru’s southern boundary.

Starting in dairying prepared him well for the unpleasant circumstances that a plumbing job could throw at him, he said.

Once, while struggling to unblock a drain, he ended up downhill from it when it decided to clear. He was left standing on a lawn in his underpants, hosing himself down while others lay around laughing.

“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”