Te Toi Uku is a museum located in Ambrico Place, New Lynn, Auckland on the old Gardner Brothers & Parker brickworks site and next to their original brick kiln. The Museum opened in 2015 and holds a collection of about 6000 objects as well as an archive which includes photographs and designs. The collection mostly relates to Crown Lynn, but also the early brick and pipe industries of West Auckland.
The museum has displays focusing on two areas. One tells the stories of the early brick, pipe and pottery companies that became the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company (Ambrico). The other celebrates Ambrico’s domestic arm Crown Lynn and the people who designed, shaped, decorated and manufactured New Zealand’s most popular tableware from 1948 to 1989. As well as finished pieces the collection contains tools and equipment used to make them.
Te Toi Uku’s mission is to create connections and participation by collecting objects, archives and stories relating to Auckland clay and commercial ceramics and undertaking research, exhibitions and programmes with a focus on Crown Lynn.
Our vision is to engage the public in the discovery, appreciation and understanding of ceramics, including Crown Lynn, and the part they played in the local community of New Lynn and throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.
Rosemary Deane (Curator)
Rosemary has a background in libraries, first at Auckland Central library in then the library at the Maritime Museum and at MOTAT. She then re-trained in Museum Studies while working at MOTAT and went on to work for the Portage Ceramics Trust from 2008 until 2010 managing the project to catalogue the Richard Quinn collection at what became Te Toi Uku. She then left Auckland and worked at Te Awamutu, Cambridge and Rotorua Museums in both collections and exhibitions roles. She returned to Auckland for the role of Curator at Te Toi Uku. She is passionate about ensuring a safe future for the collection held at Te Toi Uku and preserving the stories of the commercial potteries and the people who worked there.
Natalie Liverant (Museum assistant)
Natalie is the Saturday host at Te Toi Uku. When not welcoming guests into the museum, she can be found researching, photographing and updating the Museum’s catalogue. You can follow her dives into the archives on the Te Toi Uku Instagram account. Natalie came to Aotearoa New Zealand to complete a Master’s from Victoria University Wellington in Museum and Heritage Studies and has enjoyed learning the rich cultural heritage of this archipelago. When not at the museum, Natalie enjoys fibre arts and other historic textile handicraft.
The Portage Ceramics Trust
The Portage Ceramics Trust administers the museum. It was formed in 2005 to purchase the collection of Richard Quinn relating to Crown Lynn, which formed the basis of the museum. With funding from the Portage Licensing Trust, the collection was catalogued, premises were found, and the museum opened in 2015.
Trust Board members
Ross Clow (Chair)
Ross is a businessman, local government politician, environmentalist and lover of the arts. He had a background in small business as well as corporate industrial relations and HR before serving as a councillor at Waitakere City Council and Auckland Council for 6 years each, chairing the Finance and Performance Committees at both. He also served as President of West Auckland’s Portage Licensing Trust for over 20 years. His formal education culminated with several degrees majoring in economics, accounting and political science. He also has community service experience on school boards, sports club committees, arts projects and the development of the following trusts: Lopdell House; Olympic Park; Te Whau Coastal Walkway; Be A Tidy Kiwi and is now Chair of the PCT.
Anne Riley (Secretary)
Anne is a lifelong local to the Whau. She has been a Trustee and Secretary of the Portage Ceramics Trust since 2019, and has been active on the boards of a number of other local non-profit organisations for many years. Working alongside other passionate people, including those with curatorial and historical expertise, is a privilege, as is the opportunity to share in keeping the brick and clay heritage of West Auckland alive for current and future generations. Anne is also part of the kaitiaki of ‘Feed the Streets Avondale’, and previously the librarian at West Auckland Community Toy Library for nearly 20 years.
Moana Cook (Treasurer)
Moana’s family has lived in Green Bay for over 40 years and her mother worked at Crown Lynn in the late 1970’s. She has some fond memories of visiting the factory as a very young child and their house was always filled with Crown Lynn pieces. So, when a position became available on the board of Te Toi Uku, she jumped at the chance to join. She has held a few voluntary positions in local community organisations in the last 15 years and worked for the Green Bay Community House Society for 8 years. During that time, she developed an understanding of the importance of strong governance practice so she is really looking forward to working with the board to support the curator and organisation to keep growing. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her family and is an avid cat lover.
Elizabeth is Head of Planning and Operations at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Prior to this, she was Head of Human History at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum, leading the curatorial and collection management teams across the Māori, Pacific, Archaeology, Applied Arts & Design, and History areas of the Museum and has worked as a Senior Adviser on heritage legislation for the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Elizabeth is currently a member of the Museums Aotearoa Board, ICOM Aotearoa New Zealand Committee, and Portage Ceramics Trust Board, and is an Honorary Academic at the University of Auckland. Her research interests are in the future of curatorial practice and indigenising museum practice.
Catherine is Titirangi born and bred. She travelled extensively in her twenties, settling in Edinburgh for 6 years where she went to University. She returned to Titirangi with her Scottish husband and they have two adult daughters. Catherine is a photographer, Library Manager, and a strong advocate for egalitarian spaces such as libraries and museums. She is currently the manager of New Lynn Library, where they share a commitment as a team to create a welcoming space that is fully utilised by the diverse community of the Whau.
Juliet has a Diploma in Graphic Design and soon after finishing went to work in the Design Studio at Crown Lynn Potteries from 1979 until 1983. She later went on to work at Auckland Museum from 1984 to 2008 as an Artist Technician and Contract Display artist. She has also worked at Alberton & Highwic. Today Juliet is the Curator of the Ernest & Marion Davis Library which contains a medical collection within Auckland Hospital. Juliet has been involved with Te Toi Uku since 2008 when she was part of the team that catalogued the Richard Quinn collection and her experience at Crown Lynn has helped identify and describe objects held in the Museum.
Robyn is a heritage consultant undertaking writing, interpretation, and collection management. She has a BA in art history from the University of Auckland, and an MLS from the State University of New York at Albany. Robyn has worked in museums and libraries in both the USA and New Zealand and as the manager of Auckland Libraries, Research Centre West. Robyn has an interest in West Auckland history particularly the heavy clay industry and leads the popular Remains of the Clay walking tours. Robyn authored the chapter on clay in West: a history of Waitakere and with potter Suzy Dünser, is co-director of the Auckland Festival of Ceramics.