The odds were slim when Otaki Pottery Club started looking for a new venue.

There simply wasn't anything available suitable for their needs.

But all bets were soon on when a chance conversation highlighted a specific and unique place that could suit them in more ways than one.

The club had resided in its own building in Ōtaki College for 30 years after being started by teacher Grant McNab.


The club had enjoyed its time there, and had been well supported by the college, but recently it was felt the time was right to look for a new venue.

The search for a new place proved difficult, and it seemed nothing would eventuate, until one of the club members visited the Ōtaki Māori Racing Club and mentioned the pottery club's dilemma.

The discussion led to the racing club offering its former tote building to the pottery club.

While the tote building would need a makeover, the size and space was very appealing, so the pottery club bought it and took ownership in February.

A volunteer army, led by project manager Brent Craig, set to work revamping the old building's innards with various alterations as well as a fresh lick of rice cake coloured paint.

Lynne Corkin, Rod Graham and Brent Craig in the wheel room. Photo / David Haxton
Lynne Corkin, Rod Graham and Brent Craig in the wheel room. Photo / David Haxton

"It's been great," club president Rod Graham said.

"It was a big change for us. But as people got involved, especially with the working bees, the excitement grew.

"It's been a great effort."


Rod praised the input by Brent.

"He's done most of the work and organised teams and the working bees."

The glaze room. Photo / David Haxton
The glaze room. Photo / David Haxton

But overall "people have stepped up and given their time".

Moreover a lot of skilled volunteer labour "saved us buckets of money" and there were a few nice surprises including a grant by the Philip Family Foundation Charitable Trust to support the two classrooms.

The end result is an inviting and spacious building for club members, which numbers about 100, and visitors alike.

The building now comprises a large working space for club members, two classrooms for wheel and hand/sculptural work, glaze room, kiln room, library, meeting room, kitchen as well as a gallery space called the Tote Modern.

Jude Bismark in the Tote Modern gallery. Photo / David Haxton
Jude Bismark in the Tote Modern gallery. Photo / David Haxton

"People are getting used to the idea that there is space and there is room to move because in our previous location at Ōtaki College was a bit tight."

The relationship with the racing club had been "extremely good" too.

"They've been very positive and helpful."

The official opening of the pottery club's new home, nicknamed The Tote, takes place on July 4 at 11am with Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan and mayoress Claire Gurunathan set to attend.

And from 1pm to 5pm the public is invited to attend an open day which will involve demonstrations and the opportunity to sign up for classes which start in term three.