* Margaret Milne, potter. Died aged 87

Pottery, a craft which played a significant role in New Zealand's cultural life in the last half of the 20th century, spawned a particular breed of women.

They exhibited a fine sense of the aesthetic along with a rugged physicality - qualities which were exemplified in the life of Margaret Milne.

Considered one of the pioneers in the rise of studio potters whose work was largely domestic, she combined a personal practice with a generous devotion to teaching.

Hundreds, many of them women, were taught by her at the Auckland Studio Potters' Centre in Onehunga or at her studio in Remuera.

Milne's own first taste of the medium occurred through occupational therapy after a serious illness when she was 40.

She continued with night classes, learning from the late Patricia Perrin, and in the early 1960s formed the Waterford Potters with associates Guy and Jocelyn Mountain.

By 1970 Milne had established her Remuera studio and she became one of the early members of 12 Potters, Auckland's first pottery co-operative.

Her work explored the full gamut of the possibilities clay offers.

She used a range of firing techniques, from earthenware and stoneware, to the Japanese raku method, as well as a variety of clays.

In her early days she worked with raw material she dug herself.

Her initial output was largely domestic stoneware thrown on a wheel - the coffee mugs, casseroles, teapots, bowls found ubiquitously in kitchens of the 1960s and 1970s. She also used hand-building techniques of slab and coil to produce large planters.

In her later years she became known for her fine porcelain work, both wheel-thrown bowls and small hand-built lidded boxes.

Many of these were decorated using a technique known as agate, where the white porcelain was stained with different colours and thrown or cut, giving a marbled effect, or by inlaying a pattern on to the surface.

A memorial celebration of her life will be held at the Auckland Studio Potters' Centre in Captain Springs Rd, Onehunga, at 4pm next Friday.

Margaret Milne is survived by Mick, her husband of almost 70 years, their two sons, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.