Kāpiti’s latest tourism attraction is a lasting tribute to one of New Zealand’s celebrated craft potters and more.
The Kilns at Te Horo, which opens to the public on December 14, honours the late Mirek Smíšek, who lived in the area for 30 years.
The main attraction is two massive beehive brick kilns which Smíšek used to create his pottery masterpieces.
The kilns were in danger of being destroyed by the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway until a vision emerged to protect them by delicately dismantling them, expertly restoring them in a new permanent place close by, and developing a ceramic art hub.
Another key attraction is The Doreen Blumhardt Studio where a resident potter will working on-site for six months at a time.
Other highlights include a renovated former Te Horo Railway Station which can be viewed from behind a white picket fence, various signage boards with interesting in-depth historical descriptions of Smíšek and the surrounds, and a short walk through the ancient landscape of the Hautere bush, following reinstated paths that Smíšek made, to the site.
Future work will include an arts centre, workshops and exhibition space, which will take several more years of hard work and community support to develop.
Heritage New Zealand has designated the remnant of the Smíšek property, his kilns and the former Te Horo Railway Station a category 2 heritage site.
Smíšek was a contemporary of many of New Zealand’s best-known craft potters but was the first to have the confidence to attempt to make a living from his skill as a ceramic artist, The Mirek Smíšek Arts Trust chairman Tony Hartevelt said.
“He gained an international reputation, particularly for his economy of form and glazes reflecting the hills, forests, flora and waters of the region.”
The opening of The Kilns at Te Horo is a culmination of more than seven years of work by the trust, Waka Kotahi and its construction teams, successive Kāpiti mayors, councillors, Ōtaki MPs and the community.
“The trust believes The Kilns at Te Horo will be a significant centre for ceramic arts on the Kāpiti Coast — and New Zealand — complementing the strong artistic community already here and providing visitors with a further reason to come to Kāpiti,” Hartevelt said.
Kāpiti Mayor Janet Holborow thanked everyone for making The Kilns at Te Horo possible.
“It’s unbelievable and I’m looking forward to this being another cultural destination.”
The Kilns at Te Horo will be open Thursdays to Sundays 10am to 4pm. Entry is $5 and payable by eftpos.
It’s located on Jim Winiata Lane, off Winiata Link Rd, which is on the eastern side of the expressway over-bridge at Te Horo.