The Kilns at Te Horo

Celebrating the legacy of Mirek Smíšek and creating future inspiration.

Welcome To

The Kilns at Te Horo

The creation of this unique visitor destination is well underway. An exciting project, centred around Mirek Smíšek's hand-built brick beehive kilns, located where Smíšek created a hub for ceramic art for more than 40 years.  It will celebrate the legacy of the past and again become a lively and inspirational place.

Homepage image: Photograph by Rosalie Willis
Mirek Smíšek at the pottery wheel

Mirek Smíšek


Mirek Smíšek is an internationally celebrated ceramic artist who lived and worked at Te Horo, New Zealand from 1969 to 1997.

Mirek’s life was dedicated to his craft. He began working with clay in Australia in 1948, after having left his devastated homeland, Czechoslovakia, at the end of World War II.

Moving to New Zealand in 1951 Mirek joined Crown Lynn Pottery in Auckland where he experimented with free-flowing Bohemian decorative vases.

Leaving behind factory production he moved to Nelson where by 1956 he became New Zealand's first fulltime independent studio potter.

In the 1960s he worked a year at the Leach Pottery in England and studied in Japan. Smíšek was influenced by the Leach Ango-Japanese ascetic then proceeded to develop his own distinctive forms.

Smíšek was awarded an OBE in recognition of his work in 1990 and in 2008 the Czech Government presented him with the Medal of the Senate for his contributions to Czech culture.

Our Vision
Hei whakamanawa, hei whakaako me te whakanui
To inspire, educate and celebrate.

Mirek Smíšek’s iconic beehive kilns at Te Horo were a hub of ceramic excellence for more than 40 years. We are building on his legacy by preserving the kilns, restoring the land and buildings and becoming a unique community hub again – for future inspiration, education and celebration. There will be native bush to explore, potters working on site, kiln-openings, exhibitions, events and more.

The Kilns at Te Horo will be an exciting visitor destination and a new attraction on the Kapiti Coast.

Members of the Mirek Smíšek Trust, Smíšek’s Family, Councillors, and Czech Consul General
Members of the Mirek Smíšek Trust, Smíšek’s Family, Councillors, and Czech Consul General

Work is well underway toward Opening Day!

  • The historic beehive kilns, chimney and roof cover have been expertly relocated several metres to the east.
  • Restoration is underway on the original Te Horo railway station to become a potters residence and the 100 year old red cottage to become a pottery workshop and small gallery.
  • A native bush-stand restoration plan, with walking trail will be created.
  • Future fit out of the Railway station accommodation and pottery studio/gallery – ready for the potter-in-residence.
  • Creation of the exhibition and events Clearing, with picnic area and conveniences.
  • Development of on-site signage to tell our many intriguing and interesting stories.

Red cottage at the site

These are just the first steps in the Trust’s plans. The Kilns at Te Horo will be a centre for learning,  inspiration and celebration – with events and exhibitions, master classes, museum space, retail, café, and display of the work of tangata whenua of the area – including carving and weaving..

Join Us

Become one of the team

Join us and become part of the team to help make The Kilns at Te Horo a reality.
A place where ceramic history is told and future experiences are made. Where the legacy of Mirek Smíšek lives on!


Volunteers are needed for a wide range of roles – everyone can help in someway. Find out how you can do so.


Support the work underway.  We need your help, all contributions are welcome.

Keep in the loop

Join the mailing list to get behind the scenes updates and keep informed on progress.

Mirek Smíšek at the pottery wheel

About the Trust

A group of local residents saw the opportunity to honour Mirek Smisek’s life and art and create a multi-cultural arts centre when work began on the Otaki-Peka Peka section of the expressway (SH1).

From a germ of an idea the concept has grown with the support of the community, Kapiti Coast’s Mayor and Councillors, Waka Kotahi, Fletchers and Heritage New Zealand leading to the formal foundation of a charitable entity: The Mirek Smíšek Arts Trust in 2019.

Bringing ‘The Kilns at Te Horo’ alive has been a significant undertaking by many people who have already given time and resources. And the work goes on! There is plenty yet to do to make it happen.

Keep up to date. Or join us.

The Kilns at Te Horo Logo

Contact Us

The Kilns at Te Horo
Opening Early 2023
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