AIDS Memorial Quilt oral history (2011)

My oral history project aimed to document the beginnings of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt by conducting eight oral histories with key early members plus the Quilt’s current guardian. The project also looked at the connections with the Australian Quilt Project by interviewing its second convener - Libby Woodhams.

The project was funded through a New Zealand Oral History Award from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.The interviews ranged in length from 6 - 11 hours, and covered the interviewees family history plus how they came to the Quilt project.

The interviews have been fully transcribed and now reside with the Oral History Centre in the Alexander Turnbull Library. I hope to create some form of publication from the stories held in the recordings to mark the 25th anniversary in 2013.

If you would like more information about this project please get in contact.

The New Zealand Quilt Project

The official unveiling of the New Zealand Quilt was held in 1991 in the presence of the Governor General, Dame Catherine Tizard, and the convener of the Australian Quilt Project, Libby Woodhams, who brought with her quilts from Australia, including several commemorating New Zealanders.

While the Quilt began as a memorial, it soon became a valuable resource for promoting a compassionate and educational dialogue about AIDS. Since its unveiling the panels have been displayed in numerous schools, institutions and public spaces to an estimated 800,000+ New Zealanders.

Background to the Quilt Projects

At a Candlelight March in the United States during the mid 1980s, cardboard placards were displayed in memory of people who had died of AIDS. This inspired Cleve Jones to consider the idea of a large quilt as a more permanent memorial. Friends and colleagues joined with him to help organise sewing bees and quilting workshops.

In June 1987 the NAMES Project was officially launched with its first public display of 40 Quilt panels. The response was so overwhelming that when the Quilt was displayed outside the White House, some four months later, it had grown to 1,920 panels covering an area over two football fields in size.

Since that time the US Quilt has grown to over 25,000 panels. There are now 42 AIDS Memorial Quilt Projects world wide, including the Australian and New Zealand Quilt Projects.

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