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Gay oral history projects win funding

Wed 1 Sep 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A block from the NZ AIDS Memorial Quilt Funding has been granted to two projects which will preserve New Zealand's gay and lesbian history. Broadcaster/documentary maker Gareth Watkins and historian/ activist Dr Alison Laurie and have each received an Award in Oral History. Formerly known as the Australian Sesquicentennial Gift Trust, the New Zealand Oral History Awards began 21 years ago following a gift from the Australian Government to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi. To celebrate this anniversary, applicants were encouraged to explore the relationship between the two countries. Watkins has been given $9,985 to record seven oral histories on the creation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project in New Zealand and Australia. The New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt began in 1988 and since its official unveiling in 1991 the panels have been seen by more than 800,000 New Zealanders. In 2009 Gareth worked closely with the Michael Bancroft, the current guardian of the New Zealand AIDS Memorial Quilt, to take high-resolution photographs of the quilt panels. "As we took photographs of each panel Michael would recount stories about the person commemorated and the people that made it" Watkins says. "Many of these stories have never been documented and, by the end of the photographic project, we both felt it important to begin the process of recording this valuable oral history surrounding the quilt." Dr Laurie has been given $11,300 and will record ten oral histories about "Australian influences on the development of lesbian and gay communities, networks, organisations and individual identities in New Zealand". She says there were many connections from Australia, influencing the development of women's liberation, gay liberation and lesbian feminism during the 1970s. In addition, some New Zealanders contributed to the development of lesbian and gay communities and organisations in Australia. The oral history project will enable selected lesbians and gay men to tell their stories, adding to knowledge about these communities in both Australia and New Zealand, and how information was exchanged between the queer communities in both countries during earlier times. Both of the projects will be archived by the Oral History Centre at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 1st September 2010 - 4:26pm

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