New Zealand/ Aotearoa
Te Papa National Museum of New Zealand New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt since 1 December 1988
212 names
Te Papa new guardian of AIDS Quilt
The New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt has been passed into the care of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in a reverential ceremony this afternoon. More than 200 people gathered at Auckland’s St-Mathew-in-the-City to observe the handover of the quilt and acknowledge its significance as a national treasure or taonga. Among those present were health workers, gay rights activists and family members and friends of some of those honoured on the quilt’s panels.
Michael Bancroft, guardian of the quilt for many years, acknowledged all those who have been part of the quilt’s history, including the sewers, menders and guardians, longtime supporter The New Zealand AIDS Foundation and photographer Gareth Watkins, who in 2010 photographed each panel for online cataloguing at www.aidsquilt.org.nz. “I also want to acknowledge all the doctors, nurses and staff in Ward 9C, as we used to call it, who cared for scores of people [with AIDS] back in the late ’80s and early ’90s,” Bancroft said. He also acknowledged the significance of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt in the context of an international movement to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS. “I am told that [if] the American quilt… was all laid out in one place and you walked past each block and paused for one minute, it would take 33 days to pass the whole quilt.”
Giving the New Zealand quilt – which comprises 16 blocks of eight panels each, as well as 11 individual panels that for practical reasons are unable to be joined – to Te Papa means that it will be kept safe and accessible for future generations, Bancroft said. “In handing [the pieces] over as a taonga or treasure, they become even more sacred than they are already.” Te Papa’s Dame Claudia Orange said the museum was proud to be the quilt’s new kaitiake, or guardian. “There’s no doubt looking at the quilts they have a message of remembrance and of hope and Te Papa will honour that.”
Dame Cath Tizard, the Patron of the Quilt Project, said she was “delighted” to be at the ceremony and spoke about her personal connection to HIV/AIDS, which she first became aware of many decades ago through the death of her neighbour, Digby Law. “At that stage [AIDS] was something that happened elsewhere. But Digby Law was a fine cook, a writer of recipe books, my next door neighbour and a good friend.” In closing, she quoted the Quilt Project’s motto: “Remember their names, cherish their memory, celebrate their lives.”
Gay and Lesbian Singers (GALS) provided the musical accompaniment to the ceremony.
Te Papa will formally welcome the Quilt on Thursday morning with a marae service. Photo © gayexpress

29 April 2012
gayexpress, Auckland