Down on his luck and desperate for a job, Kevin Kaipo swore to himself he’d contact the next employer that came up as he scrolled through job listings on his phone. He didn’t know at the time it was going to be one of the best decisions he’d ever make, leading to a fulfilling career in the civil construction industry and a brand-new work truck parked in his driveway.

“I never thought I’d get up in the morning and actually enjoy going to work,” Kevin says.

The Upper Hutt local didn’t know what he wanted to do when he left school and had always drifted from job to job doing casual work on building sites. But after meeting his wife in his mid-30s and buying a house together, he decided to find a career he enjoyed instead of continuing down a path with little prospect of gaining qualifications or any kind of promotion.

The job listing that popped up on his phone was placed by Daniel Renshaw Drainage Contractor, looking for drainlayers. Kevin had no experience, but he knew of Daniel through his drag racing connections, so he gave him a ring and asked if he could come on site one Saturday to gain some experience.

Daniel decided to take a chance on Kevin and, after seeing him prove his worth a few months in, offered him an apprenticeship and bought him a 2022 Fuso work truck to use.

Kevin has now got a bright future ahead of him as a civil tradesperson and is glad he pushed himself to take an opportunity outside of his comfort zone.

“It’s never too late to get into an apprenticeship. Age is just a number, simple as that, just go out and do it – get a career rather than a job.”

Kevin is one of three apprentices working in a team of 16 at Daniel Renshaw Drainage, in a team that includes a 70-year-old veteran.

He says it’s great to work with people who share their knowledge and help each other learn. He has already achieved his Wheels, Trucks and Rollers Class 2 licence and Class 4 learner licence and is looking forward to completing his Drainlaying (Level 4) qualification in 2025.

“I really enjoy the fact I’m always learning new stuff.”

Twice a month someone in his team hosts a BBQ at their place, or they arrange a meet up in town, building a strong team culture where everyone looks out for each other and making the onsite conversation a lot more entertaining.

Installing and maintaining residential and commercial water infrastructure throughout the Wellington region, Kevin takes pride in installing high-quality drainage systems so they can serve communities for years to come.

“I get to say I did that – it looks good and hopefully it will be there for another 50 to 70 years, at least.”

Kevin attended the CCNZ Wellington-Wairarapa Branch Annual Gala and Construction Awards in July, where Daniel Renshaw Drainage was a finalist in the ‘Projects between $600,000 and $2.5 million’ category for a drainage installation in Tunnel Grove, Lower Hutt.

The project – the largest the company has ever handled – involved laying 2,120 metres of piping at a depth of up to four metres, and is one of the most challenging Kevin has worked on.

Kevin says he would recommend civil construction to anyone who’s not sure what sort of career they want to follow. He says the first job people find in the sector might not be the one they want to do forever, but they might find something they really enjoy doing.

“If you’re going to drift, you might as well drift into something worthwhile and give it a go.”