Kapiti Coast history on the move

General News

Apr 05, 2018

A significant piece of cultural history in Te Horo, created by a world famous potter, is being carefully relocated by the NZ Transport Agency as part of the work on the Peka Peka to Ōtaki highway.

Two kilns built and used over a 40 year period by potter Mirek Smisek are in the path of the expressway and are being moved slightly to the east to retain them.

The beehive-shaped kilns are the only ones of their kind in New Zealand. When they were first built the property was seen from State Highway 1, especially when alight at night, providing a blazing sight for travellers. Project Manager, Andy Goldie, says they're quite fragile so it's not just a case of picking them up and moving them.

The team has brought in a specialist contractor and the relocation work will be carried out with input from a building conservation architect.

They now have extensive erosion and rust and are currently boarded up, protected by the elements, while expressway work is underway.

Kiln history 

Mirek Smisek was a Czechoslovakian refugee who came to New Zealand in 1951.  He was the first fully professional studio potter in New Zealand teaching pottery and producing his own work from 1956. 
He began building the first brick beehive kiln in 1971 and then built the second one especially for salt glazing from 1972-73.  They’re made from 4000 second hand bricks and were originally under an old timber framed, shingle-clad shelter.

You can read more on this story on the NZ Herald website here:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12025685

Learn more about the Peka Peka to  Ōtaki on the NZ Transport Agency's website:

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/wellington-northern-corridor/peka-peka-to-otaki-expressway/