Set in the midst of a construction site, the historic kilns of celebrated potter Mirek Smišek still radiate the magic of their heyday.
Located in Te Horo, the beehive kilns have been deconstructed brick by brick, cleaned and reconstructed in an effort to preserve the historically, culturally and artistically significant kilns.
"It was a tremendous 3D jigsaw puzzle," project manager Jamie MacDuff said at a celebration of the moving of the kilns attended by Smišek's family, Mirek Smišek Arts Trust members and representatives from Fletchers, Waka Kotahi and Kāpiti Coast District Council, along with the Consulate General of the Czech Republic of Australia and New Zealand, Hana Flanderová.
"We had some very specific expertise that helped Fletchers - kiln builder Duncan Shearer and local bricklayers The Brothers Mead.
"Every single brick was taken apart carefully, scrubbed, numbered, and then rebuilt again in the same order to the extent that when you look inside the kilns they look like they've been fired recently."
Used by Smišek, a former Czechoslovakian refugee who came to New Zealand in 1951, the kilns were used for more than 40 years at their Te Horo site.
Directly in the line of the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway and shared path project, they have been moved 20 metres east of their original location after submissions from Heritage New Zealand and the pottery community added to the voices of locals asking to preserve them.
"It's not a registered class one or class two heritage site," Jamie said.
"However Heritage New Zealand would like to make it a class two site or at least add conditions to the land to give it some kind of heritage status.
"So that's likely still to happen but at the moment it's more of a cultural heritage site than historical, ancient history."
At a designation hearing back in 2013-14 when planning for the expressway was underway, submissions came in from both members of the public and Heritage New Zealand to preserve the kilns, which are believed to be the only remaining beehive kilns in New Zealand.
"The panel decided to make the preservation of the kilns one of the PP2Ō project's consent conditions."
With the kilns now in their resting place for the foreseeable future, the Mirek Smišek Arts Trust have formed to help preserve the legacy of Smišek.
Currently waiting for the construction site to be handed from Fletcher Construction back to Waka Kotahi, the trust is developing plans to have the site become a pottery hub.
Using the Red Shed and one of the old Te Horo Railway Station buildings which Smišek moved on to the site years ago, the trust has plans to use the railway station building as accommodation for a resident potter.
"We are not sure when we can get access to the site," the trust's John Draper said.
"Our plan is to have a resident potter on-site giving workshops, giving classes and providing a focal point for people.
"But we don't know time frames at this point."
Longer-term, the plan is for a brand new arts centre to be built.
Describing the magical nights when they would walk down from the homestead to the kilns, Smišek's widow Pamella Annsouth said, "There were many nights when we had to come down to the kilns every half an hour to turn or change the heat.
"We'd walk through this lovely area of trees, bushes and ferns and come out onto this wonderful strip of lawn covered in frost.
"The lights would be on and the kilns would be glowing, making the lawn sparkle.
"It was magical."
With memories flowing as they saw the reconstructed kilns for the first time, the visit to the site was an emotional time for Smišek's family.
Smišek's daughter Hana said, "We had many artists and visitors come and stay with us over the years.
"It was really interesting and fun, they would stay in the old Te Horo Railway Station building and would always cook us meals from their homeland.
"It was a really interesting and creative place to grow up."
Also speaking at the site visit was Czech Republic Consulate General Hana Flanderová, who has been working with the trust providing "mental and financial" support.
"I'm really happy I can be here on my last trip to New Zealand," Hana said.
"The co-operation with you guys – the trust, has been the most memorable part of my time in this role.
"I'm happy we could be involved and give you support - both mentally and financially."