A unique pottery and café business, which has operated for decades in Kāpiti's picturesque Reikorangi valley, is closing down a day or two before Easter.

Jan and Wilf Wright have run Reikorangi Pottery and Café since the early 1960s delighting many with their welcoming nature, homemade pottery, delicious food as well as many tame farm animals.

But with Wilf's health not the best over the last year, and the extra pressures on Jan, the decision to close has been made.

"We were thinking we could probably go on for another year or two but we really need to go out on a high than a low," Jan said.

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"We will still be here but we just won't be open."

Wilf and Jan Wright. Photo / David Haxton
Wilf and Jan Wright. Photo / David Haxton

Their story started in the late 1950s when Wilf drove out from Khandallah to Reikorangi looking for some land to buy as he was keen to live in the countryside and maybe establish a place to create pottery.

Wilf had developed a passion for pottery while working at the family's pottery shop in Woodward St, off Lambton Quay, called Stockton's, where he had met many of the country's pioneer potters.

He had been to Reikorangi before, to visit friends, and the area appealed, but when he arrived to scout it out there were no sale signs.

Undeterred he got out of his car, approached the nearest house, and knocked on the door, where a woman advised land next door could be available.

Some of the pottery created Jan and Wilf Wright. Photo / David Haxton
Some of the pottery created Jan and Wilf Wright. Photo / David Haxton

The lucky break led to Wilf and his parents Gordon and Myrna buying a 4.8h block of land in Ngatiawa Rd, in 1956, which would be their weekend country retreat.

In about 1961 Wilf met Jan who was working at a central city coffee shop Monde Marie, in Roxburgh St, part time while training to be a teacher.

"He used to come in for a coffee and one day asked me for a bent bit of wire and a screwdriver and I said 'what would I have those for' and he said 'well I need to get into my car' - he was showing off."

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On January 12, 1963, they were married in the quaint St Andrew's church a short walk from the Wright's slice of rural paradise where they would live permanently.

Wilf and Jan Wright on their wedding day. The smoke is from a hangi.
Wilf and Jan Wright on their wedding day. The smoke is from a hangi.

Jan ditched her teaching ambitions as the couple forged a successful professional career making pottery from a range of purpose built kilns the first of which was an oil fired one created by potter Barry Brickell.

Their pottery became a magnet for many people including famous Japanese national living treasure Shōji Hamada who visited New Zealand in 1964 as part of the Pan Pacific Arts Festival in Christchurch.

Jan Wright, pictured in about 1966, with some of her pottery.
Jan Wright, pictured in about 1966, with some of her pottery.

"He came to a funny little place like here [Reikorangi] to do a demonstration of glazing," Jan said.

"A really amazing gentleman."

One day they got a phone call advising an Admiral Crowe who was chief of staff for the America Pacific area, and his wife, would be visiting, which led to a hive of activity with security personnel and high ranking staff immersing themselves in the pottery property.

Their pottery business was well and truly on the destination map.

"It was an exciting time for pottery, and the crafts and literature in general," Wilf reflected.

They were productive years for the pottery as the seasons went by not to mention a great place to raise their children Adrian and Samantha.

Wilf Wright working on a pottery bowl in the 1980s.
Wilf Wright working on a pottery bowl in the 1980s.

A few years after the stock market crash in 1987 they introduced a café after thinking people wouldn't have disposable income for pots but they would still want to buy something to eat.

The started out making daily Devonshire teas and soups and would include dinner meals a few times a week.

An dining area in one of the cafe rooms. Photo / David Haxton
An dining area in one of the cafe rooms. Photo / David Haxton

"That helped but we still sold a lot of pottery at the same time," Jan said.

The couple have enjoyed meeting many people over the years and seeing them enjoy a unique country experience.

"A lot of great memories of lovely people enjoying themselves."