Presentation at Te Papa - NZ AIDS Memorial Quilt

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to come along this lunchtime. I'm Michael Bancroft, and I'm the chairperson, guardian of the New Zealand aids Memorial quilts. And today has been a very significant day for us. The aids Memorial quilts, two of which we have here on the stage, have been formally handed over to T Papa this morning, there are actually 16 of these big blocks that hold about 140 names of New Zealand, mainly men, but a few women and a couple of young people who have succumbed to HIV and AIDS related causes during the last 24 years, since the very first note, in the case of HIV related deaths occurred in New Zealand. And we say no, because a lot of people didn't realize what HIV was in the mid 1980s. And people could have died prior to that without us realizing. But up here on the quotes, and I'll invite you, at some point to go and have a look at them if you haven't had a chance already. There is one up there for Peter cuts, but and it's got 1988. And that was the very first one that was made here in New Zealand. And over here, we have one for Robin that was made in the early 90s. And we're very grateful and fortunate to have his sister Nikki, and nice Megan with us today. And Robin is he going to share with you in a few minutes, just a little something about her brother make it will come to life. But the AIDS quotes developed for those who are not familiar with it in about 1987 some people in San Francisco which was being absolutely devastated by these, this new disease that was creeping through mainly the gay community and they didn't really know what was going on. And then what happened was that people having recognized that said, let's do something about remembering. And I can't remember exactly what it was that triggered. But they meet together and decided to create a memorial panel. And again, I don't know the psychology of it, but they chose to make them his six foot by three foot. Now here in New Zealand, way down Mayfair graves six foot by three, but american people do, they tend to have a rectangular casket. So that was the basis on which they decided to make them look like grapes. And so in a particular way these quotes become like a headstone really, and individuals remembering a particular person in their lives, it might have been, as in the case of Robin, I Brava, and an uncle. They have been lovers and partners, family members, friends, and in some cases, people never knew people at all, just one to create a quilt. And we haven't got the swelling here today. But there is one quilt, which has two sunflowers on it. And a group of people got together. And what they did was in beautiful gold material creatures hated to sunflowers, and then they started putting names of friends onto each people. And they deliberately left to blank. Because Darren and Stephen knew that they were HIV. And way back in the early 90s, and really almost was a death sentence, they knew they were going to die. So they live to play pitfalls for their own names to be added once they win. And that did happen in that particular panel [00:04:36] was completed. [00:04:38] So what has happened over the last 24 years in New Zealand is that these eight quilts have grown in number. Each one of those blocks, as we call them has generally eight panels sewn together to create a blog. And here in New Zealand, we have 16 of these blogs. And we also have a about a dozen panels that haven't been sewn together. And we use those for smaller beats where people couldn't possibly display one of these. So over time, this has grown with many things in life, people's ways of doing things change. And in the early 1990s there were people dying literally almost every week. And people affected and the community would be attending a funeral probably once a fortnight. And at the time, I was a celebrant, and I've conducted over 100 age related funerals myself. So I can look at panels on these. And not only look at the name, but I remember the person. And in many cases I was the DP. And all of those things bring to life seems unusual contradiction that they bring to life, Pearson night. And so over time, medication and treatments have really affected the number of deaths. Now I've got a private book, which I've taped over the years. And it just records all the people that I've helped careful. And if you look at it, you see, you know, 1990 230-319-9449, [00:06:32] and it goes like that. And all of a sudden, around the mid 90s. The numbers that decrease. Now, the most recent hate related death for me, was just a couple of months ago. It was the first in four years, which is a big difference to having them every couple of weeks, and having panels being made one after the other. The reality is we haven't had a panel made for 10 years, people's way of expressing things have changed, the number of deaths has changed. And we have a little laugh, dare I say it, but the person who died a couple of months ago was 93. And I was asked to go and visited in 1993. Because he was an old man then [00:07:37] of 73 [00:07:40] who had HIV. And he wasn't expected to live very long. He needed someone to support him and someone to help plan his funeral. 19 years later, we had his funeral. And he was 92. As he said to me about a year and a half before he died. Michael, he said this bloody HIV is not the problem. It's bloody Oh yeah, when you get to 9293 Yes, it's old age that talking. And the previous one before that, that I can speak of a chap called Shlomo was a good TV boy know the name of Sean Maguire, who decided to become Jewish, changed his name to Shlomo and we became really close friends. There is no panel for him. But he contracted HIV at the age of 20. And after 20 years of medication, four years ago, just at Easter weekend, he said to me, I know you won't agree with me, Michael, but I've had enough pills, I'm going to stop taking the pills. And the doctors told me about 14 to 18 months and I'll be gone. Well, 14 months almost to the day he was gone. But that's a huge difference in terms of hearing and holding hands. And being part of the final life journey of people from a period of most of the time I've been associated. And the last five years, I've actually been the guardian of the quills. Now, I've got a lovely voice and I know you like listening to me. But Nikki, Nikki at once. What we call it in those days I convener of the quotes someone who would appear like get a committee together, see that these panels were being made and so on, and particularly affected because of her own brother's situation. So it's Barbie, the now that she's she's something about her brother, and particular panel. And I think to lucky, because we're only a small group, when you're ready, probably makes more sense for us to go and stand up there with you. I know it's an emotional thing for you and Megan, but this is part of the gift we bring to something like today. So, you know, there will be a time for questions when Nikki's finished, if you have any. But basically what we've done today is brought these eight Memorial quilts, which will now become part of this New Zealand national museum to pop it to the river so that future generations will see what could easily have just disintegrated completely and being lost. We don't expect that HIV and AIDS is going to go away for a heck of a long time. Even if lives live much longer. It'll still be around for a few generations yet, even if we do succeed and decreasing it in New Zealand. So these are very important to us. And we just been privileged to have to agree to take them as part of the national treasure the tongue of our tiro, and New Zealand. So, okay, I'll give it to you for a few minutes. And Megan, of course, too, she wishes? [00:11:24] Well, [00:11:25] firstly, thank you very much. And I, before I start to say anything on a personal level, I just want her with all my with all my heart, thank Michael and Kevin Gareth and Roger for all the work that they've put into bringing us this New Zealand is Memorial quote to our national museum. So thank you very much. And just again, to acknowledge the UK give us all what I know it will be treated with the utmost respect. So on that level, thank you very much. My whole our journey as a family began in 1985 was HIV when I was to see young mom and the boobs in Brisbane, when my young brother COPD sightings coming up to Brisbane, he, he needed to talk to me and for some reason, when I came off that phone call, I kind of knew somewhere in the back of my mind on you because he had been no saint, let me tell you, he had been no saved and because at that point that was being perceived as against disease, if you like, in with all the horrendous, homophobic I guess, policy of the time. In the back of my mind, I I knew. And so here for years, when he arrived from he's sitting across from me, and he said, I don't know how to say this. And I'm sitting there, just just to say it to say that, you know, and he said to me, I went to the Lv and center in Sydney. And he said, and I had a test for HIV. And, and I looked at him, and the tears came up in his eyes. And he said to me, and I came back positive. So let's die. I never thought anything more rather than to say to him, what can we do? or What can I do? And he said, just love and support me as you're always here. And I would like to think of the family. From Victor's journey in his life, we did it all the way through until seven years later, when we lost him. Now I'll skip those seven years, because there was good times and bad times through those seven years, because that's the journey of a person with HIV related illnesses. And there were, as I said, sometimes and as family we try to get together as as much as possible in their time. However, he decided to come back from Sydney and 19, late 1989, I think it was because at that time he he had become extremely unwell. And who else was going to care for him, as well as fame, like, you know, so he picked up and he came back to New Zealand. And some few months later, we did ourselves came back from Brisbane to help people home, because it was very important to us, for us to ensure that he lives this world with as much dignity as is humanly possible. So he was key for phone all the way through. And this period when he was kind of, I guess it would be quite early 1991 when you could see the deterioration was really quite significant in that probably we weren't going to have him for Christmas 1991. And, and this time have come back from New Zealand. Darren Darren horn, who Michael just spoke about earlier, used to come around and give Rob play such so he was Darren was a volunteer with the Buena Center and he would come around to give me such to Robin. And at that time he happened to Jared happen to mention to me that he was getting together with others and the committee to have an official unfolding of the unveiling of the museum, a nice Memorial panel. And did he think Robin Hood want to be on the air? So I said Well, I would ask them, I would ask them. And I knew that Robin knew that what the court was all about, because he had been at the unveiling of the unfolding of the Sydney one back in 1988. If memory serves me correctly, there abouts. And I said to him, would you like a panel made and PC to me is the thing you bought? And I said to him? In that case, what would you like put on and he said, I don't know, I will leave it up to you. Well, he passed away on the 20th of may 1991. And as it would happen, that was my son's 17th birthday. I might add at this point that my daughter Megan, she is his birthday. So she was born on his 18th birthday. So I always figured that he kind of did that just so that nobody will ever forget him so that there were these two very significant dates that were never going to be forgotten but moving along [00:16:23] the panel and when he decided [00:16:26] after he had passed away, and we just thought and we were trying to think together what to put together on his panel and looking back at his life, thinking oh my goodness, where do you start and at first it actually seemed quite a daunting task, the six by three, six foot by three foot pedal to have to put something in but as I said to Gareth a little early and the finish it wasn't big enough because it's not that he was a big loud person in his life. It's just that there was so many facets to his life and how do you put their attention to to a panel so just very quickly, firstly, it was very important for his nieces and nephews of the time because he was never going to be a father so they work as children to him. It was very important that they they were put the earth light for him at that point in time why Hickey Island because it was Waikiki Island born and most of his adult life on Australia, the dolphin because one he just seemed to have a real affinity is many people go with dolphins and I believe that there was such a thing as reincarnation. That's where the dolphins and the sea and free because he loved the sun the beach and low for one too slow for winters. I've run the other panel via where he's got his patterns in his chill that recognizes the game and it recognizes how he used to like to party up at sleazeball and Mardi Gras and anything else that might be going and you know the the pink triangle if you like we today because we weren't going to put away the fact that he is he being a gay man he was he was proud of who he was. And it was the huge part of who he was to us as well. The Irish farewell feel free well prayer is something my mother wanted and us we have some Irish history on the air but I think for us it was well until we see him again then you know he would be in God's keeping the top and around the blue panel over the is to recognize and acknowledge our Scotland's history so that we managed to get that done that panel done just in a time of after six weeks of of his going and he didn't I took it all remain with us take it into the Marion read library it's just an open hospital where the workshops were happening and handed over and it was hard it was hard leading it go because we were still on the roll gray for ISIS was was still a little grief of having Austin but new with all my heart you want to be there on opening night so yeah, and from that grew my involvement you know I used to work I paint so both blocks together pain so those blocks together a lot of what I was telling the story a little bit earlier tonight of opening night we were waiting for a panel to arrive from Wellington with with Daniel fielding so that he could that one panel was going to finish off the block for the unveiling at the Auckland Art Gallery and we were literally on our hands and these four of us laughing and carrying on trying to solve this one pain and to to complete the book or before opening time. And that was completed 20 minutes before all the dignitaries arrived. So we were pretty chuffed with ourselves and from that became my growth my as a volunteer grew a little bit of a paid position for my role as a PI convener and from that point I traveled and was very fortunate that privilege to travel the country with these beautiful treasures to be able to use those as a tangible educational tool for for for [00:20:10] schools and [00:20:12] verint communities I've been to human teaspoon collecting clubs with them I've been I think there's that song I've been up a man well I'm telling you I've been everywhere So with these quotes, very first Mariah visit was on the tee talking about all and this one and that was actually going to be a very scheduled truck that trip change into the three weeks long because word of mouth like the bushfire does when the title girl just went from word of mouth word of mouth and with those quotes were not to pass them arrived so there were many many visits on too many arise that weren't really scheduled so it was an I have to say a very awesome experience they were even taken all the wife's got at bay and it was a pouring was a rainy rainy down William surely was that you know as far as quotes for taken out of the vein each and every block and carry down spirit by or the top of spirit by and then folder, a beautiful person the clouds part of and I kid you not the rise of some came down on those core blocks and that will be aside and all my life I will never ever forget. So I've been very privileged and very honored to have Lily sharing many wonderful stories and amazing journeys, I was privileged twice to be able to take part of our museum unquote, to Washington DC to represent museums quote, and an owl history because that's a little bit you know a little bit different because we have Alma rye and and and and be able to speak and just say how we have adapted. What was the names cool project if you like to, to our own culture here in New Zealand. So on two occasions, the I was very fortunate. And, and then you know, I lost about four and a half, five years, I think I did that for so long died for me, it was on a personal level, I can't express truly I cannot express what it means to myself and my daughter to have the purity power to, to live on forever and be looked after. And on a professional level, I always used to say, well, when this pandemic finishes, all I ever wanted for them to be was in a museum where they would be looked at exactly as part of our history and for resource for generations to come. So thank you very much. [00:22:35] Thank you so much, Nikki. And, you know, I could have spent that time talking better wouldn't have been the personal story, you know, you can tell many personal stories, I just want to add one more thing. Many of you, if not all of you will be aware that the gay community adopted the rainbow flag very early on as a symbol of unity and the colors of the rainbow and all of that. And what Nikki said, just saying about the sun coming out from built. I've had several experiences in Oakland where I live, where I've been driving along the street, not in recent times. But I'd be driving my cat and see a rain, the pain that subconscious and may would say. And you know, before the day was over, I'd get a call. Michael, we've lost someone. So you know, it doesn't matter what you believe or don't believe. When a community adopts a rainbow as part of its symbolism. And you see a rainbow and someone's died, it's a bit spooky. And you'll notice that most of us today have been wearing a red ribbon at again was adopted by the community to somehow express the link to remind themselves of people who succumb to HIV related causes. And I might be wrong here. But you know, we have ribbons for everything these days. But I'm pretty sure actually, the red ribbon was the original name. And then other people copied. And of course, America has grown to have the largest state growth of all. And I read just recently that if they were to take all of the blocks of the American aid school, and lay them all down, like we have side by side, if there was a space where they could, because there are 47,000 blogs of quilts. And you walk past and you stood for one minute in front of each club, it would take you 33 days [00:24:53] to view the whole [00:24:56] you can understand why we are fortunate. de facto has accepted our small 16 to go in to our national museum. A lot of other countries around the world, they wouldn't know what to do them with them except put them in a storeroom where they probably will run from a somewhere saying anyone got any questions and just take your time and have a look around. anyone like to ask anything. [00:25:28] Because the quotes speak for themselves. Thank you for your time our official time is over. But I'm here to answer any questions Christians and thanks for being with us. And those of you who don't know, Stephanie Gibson here from Japan, has been the person very instrumental in working with the directors of the museum to see that this gift has been made today to the museum. It just wasn't practical for us to put on 16 on despite. Thank you Have a safe journey. Thank you

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.