World Water Day, held on 22 March each year, commemorates ‘all things water’ and the vital role water plays in our everyday lives, which we often take for granted.
Turning on the tap in the morning to fill up the jug for a cup of tea; having a shower; turning on the washing machine; or simply drinking a glass of water are all part of everyday life.
It takes a big team to keep New Zealand’s water flowing and World Water Day is also the time to celebrate the workers and companies in the water industry who keep things flowing smoothly.
Click to take you to a Q&A:
The Challenge, the camaraderie, the variety of work
Huia-Rose Anderson is a Senior Operator Serviceperson, Asset Renewals, for the Tāupo District Council. She is also nearing completion of the New Zealand Certification in Wastewater Treatment (Level 4) through a Connexis on-job training programme.
Huia-Rose shares a snapshot of her typical work day.
Tell us about your job with the Taupo District Council
I am responsible for renewing assets and upgrading equipment to ensure the continuity and efficiency of water and wastewater treatment plants.
What do you love most about your job?
The variety of work – no two days are the same! I could be installing water treatment equipment in a water plant; doing routine maintenance at any of the three [swimming] pools we look after; or working on a wastewater upgrade job. I love the challenges that come with the role and the problem solving! Holding a level of responsibility keeps me on my toes and it’s always good to help others wherever needed.
One word to describe your work
Why is your job important to your community and/ or New Zealand?
Being a water treatment operator means you are responsible for delivering safe, potable, and compliant drinking water to the community, so public health is of primary importance. [My job] is responsible for the health and safety of the environment.
What attracted you to the industry?
It was something different from my usual labour-intensive jobs in the past. Also being a stay-at-home mum for a while I wanted to get back into full time work – My course tutor at the time said I had potential, so I thought I’d give it a go!
How are you finding the training with Connexis?
The Connexis team have always been helpful and quick to respond.
I’m on my last pre-assessment workbook of the New Zealand Certification in Wastewater Treatment (Level 4). Then I have my onsite assessment walk-through at the Tāupo wastewater treatment plant and I am completed.
My next training goal is to complete my water treatment diploma.
What is your career highlight?
Starting as a Cadet in 2017 and becoming a Senior Operator in 2021.
What’s your advice about working in the industry?
Challenge yourself, challenge your abilities, it is truly satisfying – and you have fun along the way! You gain great qualifications, meet great mentors, gain awesome friendships and become an asset to your team.
One thing that makes my job even more satisfying is the team I work with. Camaraderie!
My parting quote to anyone thinking about joining the industry is: “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
A job for life
Harrison Sharp is a Water Services Operator for InfraCore. He is currently working towards his New Zealand Certificate in Drinking-Water Treatment (Level 4), which he is completing through a Connexis on-job training programme.
Harrison tells us what he loves most about his job.
How long have you worked in the industry?
I started in 2015 in the water team as a labourer for three years, moved into leak detection, and have been a Water Services Operator for a few years now.
What do you love most about your job?
Having the knowledge that I’m keeping Rotorua’s waters safe. We have the best water in New Zealand here, we have our sources of water close to where we work. I love having knowledge of where our water comes from knowing how to treat it.
One word to describe your job?
Two words: Satisfying, Challenging
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Being noticed and recognised to make the step up from labourer to operator and now being acknowledged as an asset to that team.
What made you decide to work in the industry?
I wasn’t enjoying the team and role I was working in [in the agricultural sector]. My father had worked in water previously. He encouraged me to make the move as there were more opportunities available career wise for progression.
Why is your role important to your community and/ or New Zealand?
To ensure that the drinking water is safe for the community and is not substandard.
What has your training meant for you?
Being an operator and having a Level 4 water treatment qualification gives consistency of training across New Zealand meaning that I could go into another plant and although some processes might be different it’s a good starting place.
Why would you recommend working in the industry to others thinking about joining?
It’s a good career path. You can stay in the industry your whole life. The people in this industry have a lot of knowledge; there is always room to learn more from them.
Kaitiaki of a treasured resource
InfraCore is a council-controlled organisation with 130 employees mostly based in the Rotorua Lakes area.
Shelley Woisin, General Manager: People Capability and Safety, tells us about the company and its role in the water services sector.
Tell us a bit about InfraCore
InfraCore is a Council Controlled Organisation, located in Rotorua. We employee 130 staff, most of whom reside in the Rotorua Lakes area. We are a truly local organisation.
What is the work that you do?
Infracore’s work is as diverse as its people.
We have teams involved in civil infrastructure which includes providing fresh water to the Rotorua Lakes area and maintaining the stormwater drainage and wastewater irrigation networks.[Outside of the three water sectors of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater] we also have a substantial presence in the parks and recreation activities in the Rotorua District.
Why is this work important to your community and/ or New Zealand?
The Rotorua water supply is special to mana whenua and is a treasured resource, so it is a privilege to be a key partner in ensuring the sustainability of this precious resource for the generations to come.
Ensuring our water infrastructure is maintained to a high level ensures the community has a constant supply of safe drinking water.
What do you see as the value in training up your workers? For your company? For the industry?
Sixty per cent of our workforce hold formal qualification. Thirteen are working towards apprenticeships. And 100% of our staff are involved in ongoing competency and skills development
Well trained workers are engaged with the work they perform, and are invested in a job “done well”.
Being able to see people grow from challenging themselves and gaining a qualification is a thrill. A number of our people have redefined how they see themselves through the achievements they have made through industry training. For InfraCore, this is the greatest reward.
Having a team with recognised qualifications gives InfraCore confidence in being able to provide quality sustainable outcomes for our community both today and into the future.
Training is key to providing the skills required to continually improve our infrastructure. If we fail to train the upcoming generations, we will have skill gaps that become difficult to fill, and our infrastructure will be worse for it.
What’s your advice to anyone considering a career in Water?
Dive on in, the water’s great! Water is our most valuable resource, and as a technician in the water industry you become kaitiaki (guardian) for this resource. This level of ownership means you will have a truly rewarding career.