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Committee – Aotearoa Quilters, National Association of New Zealand Quilters

Aotearoa Quilters Annual General Meeting is usually held around September each year. Elections are held at each AGM to fill vacancies on the committee.  From time to time members or others with particular skills may be co-opted onto the committee to assist with particular projects or pieces of work. The committee holds face to face meetings approximately three times a year.

You can contact the committee via email  – Click on CONTACT AQ 

The current committee is:


Valda Sutton – President,

Donna Cumming – Membership Secretary

Judi Schon – Calendar of Events and Touring Exhibitions

Julia Arden – Secretary, Newsletter Editor, Website

Liz McKenzie – Advertising/Promotion, Treasurer

 Jill Brake – Sponsorship

Charlotte Scott – Vice President, Publicity, Social Media

Jo Hollings – North Island regional co-ordinator

Heather Craig – South Island regional co-ordinator

Cindy Dobbin


Valda Sutton – President

In my professional life I was a Fabric Technology teacher in Hamilton. We retired to Thames in 2010 where we ran a B&B for 7 years. I now work as a volunteer/trainer for Citizens Advice and also volunteer for St John in the Emergency Dept at the hospital. I enjoy both jobs as I like working with people and it is great to be able to help people in these distressing times.
When time allows I love to create my quilts/ wall hangings from images I collect from overseas travels. As president of our local Patchwork Club ( Patchwork Unlimited) I enjoy working with others and consider myself a good team player who listens to others, but is also able to make decisions. I have enjoyed watching AQ develop, with lots of new activities, challenges and growth in membership and look froward to being part of that team, sharing my skills and knowledge.


Charlotte Scott – Vice-President

I have been a member of AQ for quite a few years and I’m very passionate about furthering the organisation. I have recently organised the AQ 100 Days Project as a special project and initiated the AQ Instagram account to help promote the organisation and was seconded to the committee during the Ailsa Craig trip. I am currently on the organising committee for the GNZQS 2021 and hope to continue my role with this project. I am fairly well known in the NZ quilting scene and I hope to continue to use my profile in publicity roles for AQ and hopefully attract new members.

 Liz McKenzie – Advertising/Promotion, Treasurer


I have been a “stitcher” since I was 5 years old. My mother worked as a dressmaker for many years to support us after we arrived in NZ as refugees and she passed on her knowledge & expertise to me.  I grew up in Wellington, am married to Neville and we have two adult sons.  Our older son lives in Melbourne and with three friends owns and runs a “Day of the Dead” themed Tapas Bar in St Kilda.  The younger one lives in Auckland with his wife and our gorgeous grandson.

We have lived in Invercargill, Christchurch, Wellington again, Auckland and 18 months ago moved to Thames.  While our two sons were young, and after completing pattern making and tailoring classes at Polytechnic, I ran a dressmaking business from home for several years.

I became interested in patchwork about 35 years ago but found that hand stitching was too slow for me. In 2004 I discovered that machine piecing and quilting was acceptable, joined an evening class and was immediately hooked! Since then I have made more quilts and wall hangings than I can count and have a stash that – as my husband tells me – will “see me out”

I am currently a member of the Auckland Quilt Guild, two quilting groups in Auckland, and since moving to Thames I have joined Patchwork Unlimited Turua, Thames Creative Fibre and a Felting group.  I have attended numerous workshops with both overseas & New Zealand tutors and have been a guest speaker at quilting groups in Auckland.  I have had quilts exhibited in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, U.S.A  and the U.K.  and have won awards in both local and national exhibitions

My working background has been in administration, accounting – for 25 years I worked in various areas of the medical/pharmaceutical field and also work with my husband in our Print Broking business.

I have been involved with several sports as a competitor, instructor and administrator at both local and National level – Swimming, Surf Lifesaving, Waterpolo, Fencing & Royal Life Saving.  Neville & I have hosted Rotary Exchange students from Europe the USA & Fiji and it is a delight to keep in touch with and to visit them & their families in their homes.

My other interests include volunteer work for RNZFB Guide Dogs and  Assistance Dogs Trust NZ, digital photography and reading.

I joined NANZQ 12 years ago and have watched with interest its decline and then subsequent growth, progress, and development as Aotearoa Quilters and I am looking forward to being involved with its future.

Donna Cumming – Membership Secretary


I’m married with two adult children, yes daughter with her husband is still in Berlin! Have lived in Auckland all our married life (hitting 35 years), last year we sold and became part of the great’ Auckland exodus’. We now have a lifestyle property in the Kaimai Ranges with ocean views growing Angus steaks! A huge change in lifestyle – and we love it. Upon reading this my husband said that he’s my biggest supporter and is behind me 100% in my quilting endeavours.

In my working life I spent 6+ years at Massey University (PN), latterly as a research assistant. Once in Auckland I have worked in a variety of administration positions. Also in Ak I worked at ‘Stitchmakers’ in Northcote as well as their sister shop ‘Clothworld’ in Milford, where I discovered all sewing machines are not equal, and my urge for patting fabric became a reality.

Have been quilting for about 10+ years, with being on the Calico Christmas committee and Ak Festival of Quilts committee mainly as merchant convenor (part of Ak Guild). I have exhibited at Quilt shows locally, nationally and internationally, I have also won many awards locally, nationally and internationally. I have also been guest exhibitor at “Quilts on the green” in 2015. I have also had a design published in NZ Quilter. I have been teaching at “Quilt studio, Papamoa” , which I have found challenging but so rewarding when you see students achieving their goals and then bringing their own ideas to the table and seeing these flourish. My goal for the long term is to pursue quilt judging.


Julia Arden – Newsletter Editor, Website, FB

 julia-ardenI have enjoyed needle arts since I was a child of 5, encouraged by my mother and her mother.  I came to quilting once I emigrated to New Zealand in 1989. I was exhibition sitting for a friend, one of the original suitcase exhibitions, and the time sitting and admiring the works gave me the inspiration to try myself. After a few years of making patterns from books, or with traditional blocks, I became more interested in quilts as art. I did a lot of  courses with the then Quilt University. One of those classes, a landscape class, generated a group of friends from the US and Canada, the UK and me. We chatted on line daily for several years, and met up in Long Beach for a quilt show, and in Edmonton and Phoenix for retreats and adventures.

I studied a lot of art and design books, worked through art quilt workbooks, and did 2 years of City and Guilds in creative patchwork with the Kemshalls in the UK. As an offshoot from that, a couple of international groups were formed, making 15 inch square quilts for challenges every 2 months. It was fascinating to see how many interpretations and styles there were a month the members, who came from Thailand, Kazakhstan, Norway, Sweden, Canada, the USA, Australia, among others.

Living in a fairly isolated rural community, I have found online friendships and learning a creative lifeline. When possible, I enjoy visiting quilt shows and lectures.

Over the years of courses and challenges, I have distilled my style, and now prefer to work on subjects that I am passionate about: the environment, respect for animals, and respect for all peoples.


Judi Schon – Events calendar, Touring exhibitions


“Growing up in the 60’s, sewing, knitting and all things crafty were a part of daily life, learnt from my Mother and Gran, instilling a life- long love, for myself, like most quilters, for touching, imagining and collecting beautiful fabrics and all those yummy knick knacks, turning them into well cherished objects for family, grandchildren and friends.

My quilting journey began 28 years ago at Bernina* Browns Bay, Auckland, making an Antique Lace quilt – inspired by Martha Pullen. I am pleased to say, I finished the quilt this year!!  Ladies, there’s hope for all those UFO’s!

I am primarily a Longarm Quilter, buying my Gammill Statler Stitcher 9 years ago, and have quilted for customers ever since, also working one day a week as a Pharmacy Technician.   I have won Best Commercial Longarm Quilting – Computer Guided,  at Auckland Festival of Quilts five times, also serving on that committee for 5 years, 4 of which I have been Convenor.

Auckland Quilt Symposium 2019 is in the early planning stages, and I am also Convenor for that event.

Quilting, in all it’s forms, encompassing education and advancement and especially the encouragement and mentoring of the next generation of quilters/fabric artists, is one of my aims.

“Always make the table wider – not higher

Jill Brake – Sponsorship

I have owned and operated a patchwork and quilting shop in the tourist town of Rotorua since 1997. Prior to opening my business I sold sewing machines for Arawa Sewing, have been a window dresser along with positions in various retail outlets.

I am a mother of three and grandmother of nine and a passionate quilter. I would like to offer my experience as a quilter and retailer to Aotearoa Quilters.

Heather Craig – South Island Co-ordinator

My mother taught me to sew as a child making clothing and I started quilting in 2002. After joining Christchurch Quilters in 2009, I spent 4 years on the committee organising workshops, retreats and was President in 2016 & 2017. In 2016, I joined the main committee as Tutors’ Convenor for the National Quilting Symposium Christchurch 2017. I have attended many varied workshops with tutors from our own club and other parts of New Zealand, Australia, USA and South Africa. I have learnt lots of skills and techniques ie traditional and foundation piecing, applique, thread painting, fabric design using paints and inks with stamps and stencils for art quilts. I have won prizes with my quilts in local exhibitions with a couple of these travelling to Antarctica for an exhibition which were featured in the NZ Quilter magazine. I like to do pictorial quilts working from photos taken on walks.

I worked in administration, accounts and payroll then retired early in 2016 to enjoy life. I love gardening, walking, swimming, mountain biking as well as quilting.

Jo Hollings – North Island c0-ordinator

I used to own a shop in Cambridge which I sold as we were moving to Auckland. For 14 years I was a member of Auckland quilters guild I was on the guild for a few years I was in charge of setting up and pulling down the meeting each week.
I was a long time member of the Counties Manukau’s Quilters quilt. I was involved in the education and classes portfolio. As well as doing a term as president and organising yearly retreats for Manukau members.
I’ve been a tutor now for over 15 years. I am now living in Napier with my husband two cats and a spoiled dog. I am still teaching locally and distantly.
And am a member of the Hawke’s bay Patchworkers.
Also I’m a member of the local art society and am a member of the committee.

Cindy Dobbin

Having been an educationalist for 43 years makes me believe I can bring a raft of skills to AQ’s committee and engage members in welcoming and meaningful ways. I have been Quilting since I discovered it while in Auckland during the period 1971-3.
I live on a small farmlet in Opunake with husband Murray and dog Tia. I have two sons with four grandchildren between them.