My Pottery Journey

Nikki, Owner of tapoutapu, in action at a pottery class, creating a bowl.


I first saw and learned of a Pottery wheel from the movie 'Ghost". You know the scene I'm talking about.

April 2021, I signed up for my first pottery class at the Waikato Society of Potters. I was very excited to learn something new and creative. It was the first time I touched a pottery wheel, and it felt scary but cool. I finished my pottery classes and came out with two tiny pieces which make great (small) dipping bowls. I was so proud of them.

I knew this would be the new direction for Taputapu - Handmade products made from uku (clay). No more importing products, no more products made in large factories, and the ability to have more control over the production process.

I searched Facebook marketplace and TradeMe until One day; a Cowley pottery wheel was up for sale. I quickly messaged the owner with excitement, saying I would buy it now and pick it up as soon as possible, and secured the deal. I was fortunate because many people were after it. I took this as a tohu of heading into the right path on my journey.

I named my wheel 'Kurawaka' after the place where Tane made the first woman out of clay. It seemed fitting, and so Kurawaka is now in our workshop. She's old school, retro, solid and made in NZ. I couldn't believe my luck.


Nikkies pottery wheel Kurawaka


Since June, I have spent some of my weekends and nights playing with clay. I'll throw bowls, tumblers, vases, mugs and go in with the mindset to let the clay go where it wants to go. The process has been rewarding and frustrating. There are times where I am on a roll, and other times I can't even centre the clay, and I'm back at zero. I have to tell myself to go through this journey feeling all of the frustrations, learn from my mistakes, take a breath and carry on.

I've learnt that clay reacts differently; some are soft and easy, others are groggy and tough. Clay, to me, has a personality. You have to prep the clay well, and if you don't, it affects the whole process. You can't skip any steps. You start by wedging the clay, throwing it on the wheel, letting it dry, trimming the vessel, bisque fire (in the kiln), glaze and then final fire. 

Pottery teaches me to learn each step well, have patience, not take the easy route, take my time and let go of expectations; just let it do its thing. It has endless possibilities: different clay, shapes, glazes, and styles. I aim to find my style.

I hope my pottery journey changes the mindsets of our consumers, where they see the time, effort and skill that it takes to make a product (a mug, tumbler, bowl). My goal is to produce handmade homeware collections with a story, promote our culture and language, and not negatively impact our taiao. 

Instead of buying cheap products manufactured in factories, I want our consumers to value and purchase quality items that are unique and will last a lifetime.


Nikki in her zone with Kurawaka


I am currently working on a Taputapu uku collection, which I hope to sell in February 2022. I can't wait to share my handiwork with you all. Nevertheless, we've achieved quite a few milestones this year, including our graphic design services. Our next blog will talk about our highlights and lowlights of 2021.


To end your year with a highlight - grab yourself a bargain on some of our remaining Taputapu stock.

Our Beach towels are the perfect summer gift for teenagers and whanau who love to spend their summer days at the beach. They double as a picnic blanket too and come with their storage bag.


1 comment
  • It’s been awesome watching your journey with clay. Can’t wait to see the collection in 2022.

    Hilary on

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