Plumbers on tap
letsfixit.org.nz

Plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers all over New Zealand are being mobilised to donate their services as an interim fix for Christchurch's domestic water and sewerage systems.

Launched this week, www.letsfixit.org.nz is a registered charitable trust and website designed to give Christchurch families the help they need to get their lives back in order by having a basic water and wastewater system connected – with no charge for labour, as soon as possible.

www.letsfixit.org.nz is asking New Zealand tradespeople to donate their time and skills to help out householders who need to fix their bathroom or kitchen to get normal life back on track.

Jay Wester, Managing Director of LEAP, a plumbing and heating supplier, who has launched the website alongside design agency Designworks, says the initiative is an interim measure while insurance claims and building plans are approved.

"Water and sewerage are two of the most pressing issues facing families in the aftermath of the earthquake. letsfixit.org.nz hopes to mobilise plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers across New Zealand to give their skills at a time of great need.

"The immediate aim is single minded – one toilet, one sink and one shower for each home to get people through the immediate emergency before the council and insurance are able to assist.

"It's not about taking work from Christchurch guys. They are overwhelmed and the system is overloaded. People are traumatised and exhausted. They need our help."

The first letsfixit volunteer plumbers are expected to be on the ground in Christchurch in the next few days, he says.

"We're all desperate to help, but it's not always easy to know how. Water is crucial. Getting household water and wastewater reconnected again is one of the most practical things we can do to help people get back on their feet.

"Anyone can help through letsfixit.org.nz" says Wester. "But we'll only be successful if the industry is behind us. We know people want to help, we've even had approaches from Australia – now the task is to co-ordinate".

After only three weeks over 65 tradesmen – including some from as far afield as Australia and Norfolk Island – have heeded the call, and 53 families have been reconnected, with another 113 in the pipeline.

Several Christchurch householders have also kindly offered to accommodate out-of-town tradesmen.

Designworks CEO Sven Baker says: "All letsfixit.org.nz is asking from licensed plumbers is to volunteer their time, whether it's a few hours, a few days, or more.

"letsfixit will then organise to get them in touch with people on the ground in Christchurch and provide supplies for the smaller jobs that need doing. All we really need is their skills."

Wester is currently discussing sponsorship agreements with major New Zealand businesses and international plumbing suppliers.

Plumbers, drainlayers and suppliers should register their interest at www.letsfixit.org.nz, leave their contact details, skills and likely availability.

As an example of the design industry pulling together, web specialists Springload helped build the interim web page, and illustrator Scott Kennedy donated his time to develop illustrations for the upcoming campaign.

Watch video on letsfixit on One's Close Up programme.