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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:


Felicity Ellison – Interim President, Archivist, Stage manager

Donna Cumming – Membership Secretary

Judi Schon – Calendar of Events and Touring Exhibitions

Julia Arden – Secretary, Newsletter Editor, Website

Shirley Sparks – Event Management

Liz McKenzie – Advertising/Promotion, Treasurer

 Jill Brake – Sponsorship

Valda Sutton – Challenge co-ordination

Charlotte Scott – Vice President, Publicity, Social Media

Jo Hollings – North Island regional co-ordinator

Heather Craig – South Island regional co-ordinator


Felicity Ellison -Interim President, Stage Manager, Archives & History

Felicity EllisonI live in the Scandinavian settled area of Norsewood, living on the farm my great, great grandparents bought. Trained as a primary school teacher, my last position as a part time fabric technology teacher was an education in its self.

Thanks to my Mum, I had the opportunity to play with fabric and use the sewing machine from an early age. Patchwork has become an instrument for me. The fabric, curing in my stash, started gathering in the late 80’s and as I much prefer piecing and appliqué than the quilting I have far too many tops waiting. I have eclectic tastes, bouncing from one style to another. Testing out the various products and techniques now available I always find fun. My interest in history and genealogy and visits to collections has developed desire to find out about our New Zealand Quilt History. I naturally would like to make contact with anyone who has information they would like to share.


 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”

Shirley Sparks – Event Management


My quilt journey started in 1995. Along the way I have had the privilege of meeting and making friends with some wonderful people, attend many great classes, travel overseas and throughout NZ and tutor classes.

I love being involved with the organising of quilt exhibitions and the challenges of hanging the quilts to create an event that the quilt makers can be proud to be a part of and visitors can enjoy.

I am passionate about fabrics and threads and enjoy most styles of quilting but prefer making wall hangings that I have designed. My sewing room is my haven!

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.