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Three-day holiday became Matarangi Plumbing

“I remember sitting at Grace O’Malleys and we were both thinking, ‘We could see ourselves living here,’” says Andrew.
 |  Pauline Stewart  | 

The Matarangi Plumbing team – Keith (adult apprentice), Andrew (owner) and Jamie (registered plumber).

Andrew and Sarah Richardson were having a three-day holiday in Whitianga after the first lockdown. They were both essential workers and living in Half Moon Bay, Auckland. Andrew commuted to work in Waiheke Island and Sarah worked in the city.

“It had been so full on and we needed to get away,” says Sarah.

“But then, we were asking ourselves, ‘What are we going to Whitianga for?’ We already had a beach location and access to a heated swimming pool.”

However, within six months, Andrew and Sarah had sold their house and moved with their daughter Hannah to Whitianga just in time for the second lockdown.

Andrew started working for one of the plumbers and Sarah gained a casual contract working at both pharmacies in the township of Whitianga.

“People were too scared to come into town, at that time. We both felt needed being in essential services,” says Sarah.

Becoming Matarangi Plumbing: Andrew says, “I was working on a job in Matarangi and I needed a particular fitting and went to get one. I got talking to Howie Taylor (at the time he was owner of Matarangi Plumbing). He was wanting out as he felt it was time for him to semi-retire and he was talking to someone who wanted in.”

I came home that night and said to Sarah and Hannah, “How would you feel if we bought a business?

“Well, three months later we were the owners of Matarangi Plumbing and that was four months after we arrived. It was a bit of a gamble, but we had bought the business from a great couple with a very good reputation.”

Joining the community: We were prepared to do the bad jobs with the good ones – maintenance, alterations, tap washers through to new homes. We were determined to be the plumbers who had that reputation – “they will get the job done.”

Matarangi is predominantly a holiday destination. At first, ninety percent of enquiries came from Matarangi but soon they were doing work from Whitianga to Coromandel. We don’t often go south of Whitianga – we have Wharekaho, Kuaotunu, Otama, Opito, Whangapoua, Manaia and the township of Coromandel.

Andrew has been plumbing for 25 years. (From his looks I think he must have started at 10 years of age.)

“I am a realist and know that plumbing takes its toll on your body. I had an accident and Keith became my arms when I could not use them, and he didn’t leave.”

Andrew is clear about training people to be in such an important industry.

“Having an apprentice is an important part of the plumbing business. We need younger people coming up behind us. It is a good industry and an essential service. But things have changed a lot. The regulations are intense.”

Sarah does the administration for Matarangi Plumbing as well as her work at the pharmacy.

“Andrew can fix things – see what’s wrong and fix it,” says Sarah.

“It is quite a skill that he has and it is good that we pass on that knowledge. We are busy here also but the quality of our life is very much what we were hoping for.

“If you are doing a lot of old houses or working on an old villa that has been fixed by twenty tradesmen in the past, a plumber has to fix things according to the situation. You can’t start again,” says Andrew.

Keith was their first plumbing apprentice and now they have Jamie as well.

“We are proud of our apprentices and good workmanship is important to us and to everyone for whom we do a plumbing job. Being the biggest is not so important to us. We don’t want to forget how busy and over-crowded we were. We came here for a better-quality lifestyle.”

The Informer has observed Matarangi Plumbing in the sponsorship list of quite a few from A Taste of Matarangi, netball hoodies, The Lions Club Garden Ramble. and Halloween treats for the town’s children

“Getting involved in the community has been great for our family,” says Andrew.

We believe in helping make that sense of community work – good for our family and good for business, and we like the people here very much.”

Sarah and daughter Hannah are surfing enthusiasts. All three enjoy fishing too, though there hasn’t been the time except to be very part-time at fishing.


We were determined to be the plumbers who had that reputation – “they will get the job done.”