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Nicki and Megan - NZ AIDS Memorial Quilt

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in [00:00:05] Okay, this panel was made for my brother Robin Neary [00:00:10] in the months leading after May 1991. And in the months leading up to [00:00:17] October of 91, when the official unveiling was going to be and we've been asked to create a panel for him. Prior to that, though, I had asked him what he wanted on his panel for the quote, and he said he didn't know he would just leave it up to us. So [00:00:32] yeah, was that a hard conversation to have? [00:00:36] It wasn't some wise, except that he had actually been at the Australian unveiling, I think that was in about 87 or 88 of memory serves me correctly. So he really understood and he wanted to be, he wanted to be there on opening night that much I do know about it was not particularly difficult. I was actually looking for some input. It always had quite a voice in his life. And I sort of figured he might want to have some input here. So But no, he lifted up to us. And so we've made it very, very family orientated. [00:01:06] Can you describe what on his panel? [00:01:08] Okay, well, firstly, I think, Dan, first and foremost, and the look on mate, the Waikiki island which is on the hierarchy golf with New Zealand is where he was born on the second domain 1958 and we've put a rainbow across that guy and Australia because it's where he spent a lot of his adult life the dolphin because I always figured that you know, if there was such a thing as reincarnation and that's what he'd want to be and the ocean free and, and walled a few like the sun because he lived for summer around that blue panel of the sea because he loved the sea and point of fate was born on Waikiki Island and was literally on the sea on a ferry within two hours from being born to come to the mainland. That surrounded and Tatton for his some has has his sculptures, heritage or Yeah, all our foremothers and forefathers came out here and yeah, my day is just a first generation New Zealanders so yeah, and then the Robin em, and it's not because we didn't want to put a pseudo name on this particular panel. It's just that the author of the new room to get everything on. So it's there, the buttons over in the other corner of the corner from his button collection. And yeah, you know, he loved Mardi Gras. He loved sleazeball and spent some time in San Francisco. So in the 80s, of course, we you know, over the Harvey Milk and gay rights issues are happening these so he's been quite an activist and has time. [00:02:44] Then down here, this the, at the time has nieces and nephews and the ages they were the Tiber has Steve so [00:02:55] they are quite predominant in just coincidentally under the secret is my daughter Megan's in front because she was born on his 18th birthday. And my son Bryce is under the 20th of may because he passed away on the 20th of May, which was Bryce's 17th birthday. So yeah, very, very family orientated. And then I don't know why we chose this the Irish farewell prayer, because there was some Irish ancestry there, but I'm not sure whether it was something mother wanted it that, you know, my mom wanted on the material, but just saw that she felt someone and we all did that, that someone was going to, you know, hold him in the palm of the hand. And until we meet again, so Tachyon Oh, [00:03:39] yeah. [00:03:42] Yeah, from looking here on end the roses just because enough enough rosacea. [00:03:48] Can you describe for me what it was like to actually create this into? I mean, obviously, all these things mean a great deal to Robin and the family. So what was it like actually creating this and vaping? [00:04:00] Wow, it was really you began at first of all, when you're faced with Well, not face, but you know, the, the significance of the six by three panel, of course, was the fact that that is the size of a normal grave plot in globally. And when you're faced with this piece of area, and you said, Oh, my goodness, what am I going to fill it up with a minute, he became a case of our Well, well, where do we stop? So it was just a little bit of everything from his life, you know, and most importantly, we really want to take knowledge as the fact that he was a gay man, because he was proud of it. And he marched again, and many human rights so it was a case of just lots of family effort and thought about what it was. And in fact, we, before we actually searched the all the pieces onto the panel, I remember very distinctly having the panel on the floor with all the pieces little nod and I was standing on top of a couch on the back of the couch to see looking down on what what it would look like. And coincidentally Tina Turner's simply the best song came onto the radio in that time, and I thought warping go we were there because that's the very song we we seem to matter chapel with on the day of his funeral. So as I said, you know, and I don't think I mentioned the reason that Blake on the on the panel is and nine because he was a big North Sydney, Sydney fan, I thought was really for the males that were on the team. But anyway, myself but anyway. And the silver because that was his favorite jewelry. He liked silver jewelry, as opposed to gold jewelry. So yeah. [00:05:45] So [00:05:46] once we got going, whether it was honestly about or where do we start, because it's live from campus so much. And we thought he was quite a simple person. He wasn't really over the top person. So we tried to keep it's much easier without being too over the top. I'm too busy. I suppose it was a bit busy when we look at it now. [00:06:06] Family simple life pretty much. It's his other side of his life is just that as a kid, I didn't see much of that. Because he kind of hid it from us. But [00:06:17] that was awesome. It was cool. [00:06:20] So Megan, this is your handprint, what age were you when you to this? [00:06:24] I was 15. I was 15. He was Yeah, he said he was 33. And I was 15 when he died. [00:06:32] And that was 18 days after our birthday. He actually he passed away. So was difficult, very difficult. [00:06:42] As a teenager, had you encountered HIV AIDS before this. [00:06:47] And it's wrong, correct. I mean, we didn't really know what we knew he was sick. But I think until we don't totally go out. And then when we came back to New Zealand and 91, then it was then a really hit me has to like that this was going to kill them. And it's just but I mean, a lot of my friends at school back then they had no clue. It's just like, because it wasn't, that wasn't a well known disease way back then. So I think it is now than [00:07:15] it is now. [00:07:16] In fact, Megan, do you recall, the very first high school we ever talk the quote into was Kelsey and girls high school. And that would perhaps have been about 92 because one of the reasons we took it on there was because it Coulson your high school, there was Megan, my daughter, and my two nieces, Amy and Kylie, they were 18 and Kelsey and girls high school. And we felt that it might be a [00:07:44] good way of just opening up and making it a safe way for them to be able to share with their friends, the experience and the grief they were going through because often, I believe there is a death in the family. You know, we forget that children or young people are going through some kind of grief themselves, you know, because as adults were quite consumed, you know, and it was very difficult for these young woman at the skills high school to be able to talk about safely without people being mean and nasty of is, you know, the gay, the gay disease. And so I mean, if you said you said the my my uncle died of AIDS, instantly that was that. So he was gay, then I'm like, Yeah, but it makes no difference. Anybody can get it. And then that's, I mean, through most of my speeches I had to do in high school. They were always about HIV AIDS, to educate them that it's, it's not just a gay disease. I mean, yeah, anybody can get it no matter how old and I had [00:08:44] only [00:08:44] in Kenya. At the time. I guess that was the time that it was perceived as being gay disease oftentimes. [00:08:53] So the first quote, shine in the school. Did you got up and spoke? [00:09:00] I don't think I did know, it was my mum, mum mum spoke for us. But we didn't we didn't actually get some it was any. It wasn't that many girls in the school and anybody that knew us would have known that it was my mom talking to that. [00:09:15] Against again, and at that time, we took a woman living with with HIV along with us a la she, you know, my mom like to just remember who today? Because she's no longer with us. But yes, again, it was just being able to put the woman's perspective on it, because we were in this all girls high school. So and I believe that it was a really positive because I certainly know that Amy and Carly, you know, we're, we're able to them feel more comfortable about being able to say, and then they felt quite proud that they were able to say, this is my handprint on this quilt, you know, this is my handprint on this quote and this person [00:09:56] is part of our family. [00:09:58] And always will be [00:10:02] Do you think actually making the panel was was it a cathartic experience? What kind of experience was it for you guys? [00:10:10] Certainly was I think all of us you really hear lots and lots of tears, lots and lots of tears go into it because of course, we might as well I began making this about three weeks after he had passed away because he wanted to make sure that it was really and fade. I believe we hated him just approximately six weeks after he had passed away to the workshop a few like getting ready for opening night at the Art Gallery on the first of October 1991 in Jan. So it was certainly it helped with [00:10:43] the [00:10:45] the raw grief. I guess that's a good way of saying it. You know, because you are more grief for a good 12 months afterwards. Well, I know that I certainly was and so for me it was here. [00:11:00] So [00:11:03] my my my 16th birthday was really hard. Because Yeah, for the first couple of weeks leading up to that I'm expecting something from uncle Rob like cat or anything because he never even missed my birthday. And then and actually didn't get anything. I mean, yeah, my my 16th I was pretty miserable. I mean, but my skills. That's what they kind of turning point at the sweet 16. And enough for me All I wanted to do was hide my bedroom and cry but [00:11:30] but not hit the party anyway had the party anyway. And you hit the case? Yes, Yes, I did. He was still there. But it was extremely, extremely difficult. I mean, as he's gone on, it's gotten easier, but especially on our birthday. I just it's [00:11:47] still not [00:11:48] nice down on us, because I still got all the soft toys. And any anything he pretty much gave me I've still gotten this. They sort of come out. I mean, but I'm [00:12:00] so over the years when when you've seen his panel, do your feelings change towards the panel? Or does it take you right back? [00:12:09] I'm proud. I mean, especially now to see where it is now but not always brings but whenever you even just seeing the photos of it online or whatever. I mean, it's still just brings back brings back the memories [00:12:22] of really was to me because I didn't see him a lot because it was in Sydney. We were Disneyland and stuff but nice. Yeah, he'll always be there. He'll always be there. And it was just, it was it was an honor an hour to be my had my mom to look after him. And I probably didn't go down and see him as much as I could. But I couldn't handle. I couldn't handle watching him die. So. [00:12:49] So this year, he would have been [00:12:52] 54 yesterday. 54 yesterday is yes. So, and I was just having a discussion with Megan last night right? About? Well, I wonder what he would have been as a 54 year old mean, [00:13:07] we have been a nice 54 year old man. Oh, you know, grumpy 54 year old men, let me think about this. [00:13:17] Show. Absolutely. And ultimately, but you know, time stop for them at 33. And that's how we remember her at the age of 33. So and, you know, the good years that he had and the not so great years, the head, you know, but as a family, we loved him unconditionally. And, you know, every single day he walks with us and this today here at t papa. Yeah, just as Megan said, I'm feeling very honored and very privileged. And he would so so want to be here just to really appreciate the history because [00:13:56] the crew history, the guy history, I think I see a little bit earlier, the mini mini lies a history that that lay behind these panels on human rights, the whole lot, you know, Apollo politics, just so much lies behind these quotes. And to bring us here today is just awesome. Just [00:14:16] remember, say that he works with us all the time, literally, he does, because I actually had, I've got a regular that tattooed on my leg. And In Memoriam to Uncle Rob site, which I had done that a couple of years ago. So [00:14:30] it was very strange, because I'm 36 now. And when I turned 33, it was just older, like I just wander was my uncle Robin never ever uncle Rob never ever got further than this. It's just like, truly my life at all. I mean, back when I was 15, it was like [00:14:49] nobody picked him to those cities. [00:14:53] Were he always remember wearing? [00:15:00] So [00:15:01] one of the things that struck me and seeing a lot of these panels is just the age the very young age of people, you know, a lot of people in their late 20s and the 30s. [00:15:10] Yeah. [00:15:12] Yes. And unfortunately, that was the the average age. In fact, I think if my memory serves me correctly, at the time from statistics, the average age was 31 years of age, I believe, at the time through those, you know, like 80s, and 90s. And all I can say today, here in 2012 was thank God, goodness for medication, thank goodness for research that, you know, I have a friend who's now live with this fire. So actually to I'm thinking of them now, two friends who have lived with this virus since 1988 89 [00:15:47] and are with us today. And because for some reason, the metabolism, metabolism click with the drugs as harsh as they were in the early days, and are able to live well and happy and carrying on the crease today. So we've come a long way in 25 years is Michael was saying earlier [00:16:06] enough that no coats have to be added to it. That's that's the main that said that they coming here. But yeah, I mean, it's a good thing to show that people are staying alive from it. Now you can get it and it's not just a terminal disease anymore. That's what's brilliant. It's brilliant. And it's this night, there's no need for days on such a huge scope anymore. Not Not Not like 20 years ago. [00:16:35] Mickey, you were the matron veiling in Oakland in 1991. And you will also as the handing over ceremony ceremony to papa last weekend in 2012. So you spend 21 years [00:16:52] what has it been like having the court in your life for 21 years. [00:16:58] I can merely say on slay again. It's always very humbling. And I guess humbling, because you get to share and all these awesome lives, you know, I just get to know and I could stand here and walk around and still to this day almost tell you a story behind each and every one of these panels just lying in front of us, you know, because, you know I got the privilege of being able to travel with them around the country and tell these stories and just be the verbal voice I mean, everybody knows the court itself wants its own speaks for itself but just that verbal voice at different times. And it's truly been an honor and privilege effective ma'am I meet the other day beef when we're at St Matthews in the city. They've jealous such an I meet because of a working be for the coach and I and she handed her her some Michael's coat and at the time and then I must have been robbed and mean it was just everybody helping everybody to to get these quotes solid together for opening night. And I think just right now is probably really appropriate to share. I'd like to just mention Daniel field and because it's really appropriate to that these quotes, in some ways have come back to Wellington because Daniel fielding had, you know, again, sort of the call here and I remember on opening night at the Art Gallery in Auckland, we were all waiting apprehensively for one panel to arrive from Wellington on the back of Daniels motorbike. And it was raining and pouring and horrible, all this kind of thing. But I can just remember Dave and myself and a couple of others. Literally, once Daniel got there shaking off, you know, the rain drops off as leaders such as motorbike and racing into the art gallery. And we had that panel, we had to get on a Haines and these are all the Scotland three than the art gallery. And so this panel into the final block that particular block. And that was all done about 20 minutes before Dan came out in the end the the dignitaries which will arise so yeah, just all those neat fun stories and the laughing that carried on and that's what I'm going to say about the school, the laughter, the stories, it has just been an awesome awesome journey and and only ever in you know, because, you know, there will always be new panels made and it will be, you know, added I guess one day to this, but in the interim, you know, it's been nothing but an honor and a privilege and in a really fitting place as a national song for for the entire life and be forever. [00:19:25] One One thing that Michael said at the ceremony this morning, Michael Bancroft was not only we bringing panels and but they're actually the people. And I just like that idea that actually it's binding people in the panels to the people carrying the panels and the family members carrying the panels and wondering, what are your thoughts on being into proper living here? [00:19:53] That's awesome. [00:19:54] Because at least they're going to be treasure they they'll be preserved forever. Whereas if I mean, Michael Can I do do so much whereas the museum's got this they've got so much better technology than then pretty much covered. But just the resources to be able to preserve them so that that they are around for all time. All Time which that's just it's unbelievable, let's pray man, very good. [00:20:25] He is like this and for me just personally on on two levels, I guess having been involved many years with as the convener with a quote at some saluting your net scenes, but you know, they won't, you know, used to be accessible, but on a different level, you know, and, and for me personally, it's a little bit of a letting go of had a little bit of a good cry this morning. Because again, it just evokes as Michael said, all these memories, always memories and the love and the laughter, and the pain and the tears that [00:20:56] hey, I have gone into making this quote, but you know, ultimately, love and our losses are all the same. And I guess, again, I'll use the word again, it's that common thread that brings us together so yeah, on that. I'm glad they're here. I'm glad they're all together. They've all traveled many, many physical miles together and kilometers together. And as families we've all traveled meaning many emotional miles together so [00:21:24] or kilometers for cheaper, cheaper, whichever side of the Pacific you want to be on. But you're certainly it's a very proud and honoring moment on a personal family level, but certainly on a national and even a global level because how many new themes again I think to pop has been really forward thinking and and accepting these wonderful wonderful trees at us today to preserve all the history that's behind them [00:21:56] was beyond shy now. [00:22:04] No, no, surely could be [00:22:06] my mother my way he was gay. Come on. [00:22:19] One of the things that struck me when Michael was speaking about the coops coming into to Papa and him saying they won't be touched by human hands again, I actually made a point of touching them because I mean personally I thought that in some ways it's a real shame that actually they made by human hands for human hands but I can absolutely understand the preservation absolutely understand that [00:22:44] and and trust me Gareth I'll be taking my most sleep touch before I leave here today just because you know for that very reason I call has always been very tangible you know, it's always been very touchable and that's what makes up one of his fame you know, but again, certainly certainly understand like, the reason we have so many historical boxes because they have been preserved and away from human Haynes and no different for these, you know, I'm very impressed with the way these have all stood up to wear and tear though, you know, all the folders and unfolding over 21 years, you know, and that people have really thought about it that in the making. So yeah, it's a big letting go. But just another journey for the quote. [00:23:27] I'm just wondering, just wrapping up. Do you have any kind of other final thoughts or final things that you want to put on tape? [00:23:40] I [00:23:42] can't think of anything at this moment except to say [00:23:46] love you, Robin. Always well, and [00:23:54] you have to snow that you'd be real proud to be here today. [00:24:00] vape

This page features computer generated text of the source audio. It is not a transcript, it has not been checked by humans and will contain many errors. However it is useful for searching on keywords and themes.