13 Jan 2016

All tastes covered in teapot collection

10:03 am on 13 January 2016

A Catlins man has deliberately made worthless what could be the country's largest collection of teapots.

Graham Renwick's teapot collection.

Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Graham Renwick has amassed more than 1300 of the humble brewing pots, and arranged them in his front yard in the main street of the small town of Owaka.

He says the collection only has value as a display because he drills holes in the bottom of any teapot he discovers is valuable.

But Teapotland, as he calls it, is not without worth for up to 150 visitors who stop to view it on a good summer's day.

The teapots are grouped by type, from cows to teddy bears to pirates.

But Mr Renwick's favourites are a circle of vegetable-shaped pots, including a pumpkin, cabbages, carrots and an onion.

Graham Renwick's teapot collection.

Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

He has collected the pots from everywhere, including garage sales, second-hand shops and online auction sites such as Trade Me.

Mr Renwick says it started with a kettle which he moved on to his fence while weeding his front yard.

He liked the look of it but the local Salvation Army opportunity shop had no more kettles, so he bought all of the store's teapots and put them on the fence too.

He says it's just grown from there, and pots now fill his front windows, line the drive and cover his home's front yard.

The strange thing is he doesn't drink tea, and only takes a daily breakfast coffee.

Graham Renwick's teapot collection.

Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

But he says coffee's growing popularity means teapots are easier to come by, as everyone has at least one they don't need.

Mr Renwick often comes out in the morning to find someone has left two or three unwanted pots out the front to add to his collection.

He recently added mannequins, which he intended to have on the opposite side of the road holding a Teapotland sign. That didn't work out, so he shifted them into the garden.

Visitors now sit to have their photo taken with the mannequins, surrounded by teapots.

Graham Renwick with his mannequins among his teapot collection.

Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Even so, he is humble about his hobby.

"It's a small collection considering what's out there, though it would be large to most people.", Mr Renwick says.

But he admits the hobby is getting expensive, with some pots costing $50 each.

It's surprising, then, to find out the country's largest collection of teapots is worth very little.

"If someone tells me I've got a really expensive teapot I don't know about, I actually take it into the shed and drill a hole in the bottom of it.

"So it actually makes it worthless then, because to me it's a teapot... it's just the value of looking at it and having its picture taken.

"Some people just come in and take pictures and pictures, and walk away shaking their head."