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Kevin Jensen

In this podcast Kevin reflects on taking the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt into the community, and designing the quilt website. The recording was made just after the official gifting ceremony of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt to Te Papa - the national museum of New Zealand. Special thanks to Te Papa for allowing us to record on Te Marae.

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This summary covers the content of a recorded interview with Kevin Jensen, titled "Kevin Jensen - NZ AIDS Memorial Quilt," conducted by Gareth Watkins at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa on May 3, 2012. In the 17-minute podcast, Jensen shares experiences of bringing the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt to the community and developing its website.

Jensen's introduction to the quilt occurred in the early nineties through involvement with the Nelson HIV AIDS Support Network, with the quilt first arriving in Nelson in 1994. Each block of the quilt, made up of 8 panels measuring 6 by 3 feet, forms a sizable 12 by 12-foot square. The quilt's transportation around New Zealand was facilitated by Ansett New Zealand airlines, offering free shipping. Demonstrating the broad reach of the quilt, it was displayed in schools, churches, and various community spaces in Nelson and also toured Taranaki.

At Nelson's schools, reactions were mixed, but the impact was evident, especially among younger audiences, who returned with thoughtful questions, indicating meaningful engagement. On one occasion, heartfelt stories were shared by a teacher who had cared for Romanian orphans affected by AIDS, deeply moving all who joined the conversation. Though some schools were hesitant to host the quilt, many were receptive, and teachers often noted that their students had never been so attentively quiet.

Working intimately with the quilt included help in crafting panels to commemorate lost loved ones, a profound experience filled with shared memories and emotions. Jensen speaks of an ongoing connection to the quilt, including assisting a father in making a panel for their lost son and contributing to the website creation.

The website serves as a digital memorial, providing enduring accessibility to the stories behind the quilt. Initially, the task of collating panel information was challenging due to precomputer documentation, but with archives and computerized records, much of this information was preserved and incorporated. Unfortunately, some panels still lack accompanying stories, highlighting the ongoing effort to gather these narratives.

Importantly, the quilt and archival materials now reside with Te Papa, ensuring careful preservation. While physical access might be limited, the digital platform allows continued exploration and engagement. Jensen expresses satisfaction that the quilt's significance and the love poured into it will be revered and safeguarded at the museum, a sentiment appreciated by the community and those whose stories are interwoven with it.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:3rd May 2012
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-003966).