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The future of Aotearoa Quilters

On December 11th 2013 the committee sent a letter to all members regarding the future of the association and the intent to wind it up at the end of the financial year. It is vital that we receive comment and feedback from members and non members about the future of the Association so that those at the meeting are fully informed before making any decisions. You can add your comments at the bottom of this post.

Here is a copy of the letter:


Dear Member

Over the last four years your committee has tried to increase membership of Aotearoa Quilters to a level that would make the Association sustainable into the future. Unfortunately we have been unable to do this and are now recommending that the Association be wound up.

What has worked

rebranded from NANZQ to Aotearoa Quilters to have a fresh start

new website covering shop, tutor and guilds

offered associate membership to groups

run free online challenges – reasonable entries

a monthly electronic newsletter to keep you up-to-date with what is happening and information on our website

run the RED challenge – very successful with 127 entries

a recent Facebook page – 99 likes

a successful travelling biennial challenge with large number of entries though fewer numbers the following year

a successful annual exhibition from a professional quality point of view but often a struggle for entries. Good ongoing sponsorship from Bernina of a machine for Best in Show.

What hasn’t worked

run an annual exhibition in conjunction with the Hamilton Quilt and Craft Fair (does not make money now and no increase from EE so no longer viable to run in this format. Made the association money in the beginning)

run online junior challenges – small entries

various articles and news on the website for you to read – we need a lot more to add value but difficult to get contributors

had a strong presence at the last two symposia with a view to increasing membership with little success

goody bag packs promoting the Association – very costly

lectures series sponsored by the Association.

We have a membership of approximately 200 and this does not cover the cost of running the association. Therefore we have not been covering costs in recent years and while the committee felt we needed to spend reserves to try and increase membership we feel this has not been successful and therefore with only $7000 left in the bank and no increase in membership, it would be financially imprudent to continue. So a

fter much serious discussion the feeling of our recent committee meeting was that we had explored every possible avenue to increase membership and create a vibrant, interesting organisation. Due to the availability of internet groups and similar other groups there has been a difficulty in attracting and keeping new members. Very reluctantly it was moved that the process of winding up AQ be started as per the constitution. We would aim to be wound up by 30th April 2014, in line with the end of the financial year.

Therefore we are having a

Special General meeting on 1st Feb 2014 at 2 pm at the ASB Sports Centre, Mataitangi room, Kilbirnie, Wellington for the purpose of beginning the liquidation of AQ as per our constitution. If the decision at the 1st February meeting is to liquidate the association then


second General meeting will be called on the 15th March 2014 at 2pm at the ASB Sports Centre, Mataitangi room, Kilbirnie, Wellington to ratify any decision made at the February meeting.

According to our constitution:

voting must take place in person therefore there is no postal or proxy voting allowed

there must be two special meetings

meeting one is to make the decision to wind up the Association or not wind it up

if the decision of the first meeting is to wind up the Association then the second meeting must be held at least 30 days later to ratify that decision.

any residual funds cannot be allocated to members and must be given to a recognised charity. The committee is recommending that any residual funds be given to NZ Breast Cancer.

We are hoping for a lot of feedback from our members and will put this letter onto our website with a provision to add comments. We will open this to all so you will not have to log in to give comments. We will also add a post onto our Facebook page so that comments can be added there. With both avenues we are hoping there will be some good conversations around the viability of the Association so that those attending the meeting in Wellington have any necessary information to make an informed vote.

What happens if we do wind up by the end of this financial year:

the BLUE challenge still goes ahead so please support this so we have a good exhibition in Christchurch and Palmerston North

any prepaid subscriptions for next year will be repaid

Our website will stay active until the end of the calendar year 2014 so people are aware of the status of the association

residual funds will be paid to NZ Breast Cancer

What happens if we do not wind up the association:

we will need some new people for the committee to help take the association forward (some existing committee would stay on but not all)

prepaid subscriptions would not be paid out as the association would be continuing

a new venue for the annual exhibition would need to be found with a subcommittee to run this

other challenges, articles, options would need to start happening

website would continue

The main reason for trying to wind up the association by the end of the Financial Year is to ensure that if the decision is to carry on, then that decision would be made prior to a new year of subscriptions being due and would hopefully not impact on numbers.

We really want your feedback so remember there are 4 ways to give this to us:

add comments to article on the website

add comments to our Facebook page

send us an email at

Writing to the Association at PO Box 908 Pukekohe 2340


Catherine McDonald


38 Responsesso far.

  1. Margaret Rietema says:

    I was very sad to read the above letter. But being realistic, if a group is struggling I think it is important that it is given its best shot. However, if there is no improvement or growth then the decision needs to made to carry on or abandon it.

    Having said that, I am happy to make myself available to help in anyway I can. I am Hamilton based, so not quite sure how that would work…

    I won’t be able to attend any of the meetings, but am very interested to hear what transpires.

    Kind regards

    Margaret Rietema

  2. Mary Transom says:

    I have been wondering why there has been so little comment on this sad news. Perhaps some have not yet received the letter, or perhaps it is the timing, a few days before Christmas. Founding members, where are you? I know the committee have struggled with this issue for years, since the matter was brought up in Hamilton and the suggestion was made then that we shut down. The rebranding exercise was meant to revitalise the organisation, but as we all know, numbers have continued to dwindle. Perhaps it is as Catherine says, online groups have taken over?
    Could Aotearoa Quilters continue as an online group? We would still need people to run that though. But it would provide a venue for our work to be shared and issues as well.
    Personally, I would be happy to put myself forward to help, if the decision is made to continue.
    Come on everyone, have your say…..
    Kind regards

  3. Mary Napper says:

    I was stunned when I opened the letter, and then I thought about it and knew that this almost happened in Hamilton some years ago. Since then the new committee’s have tried to use the internet to engage with more potential members. In general belonging to groups is not what today’s younger generations like to do. They would rather “pay to participate” and not committ to ongoing possible activities.
    I believe we have given it a good go. It served an important role before we could all sit in our own homes and connect with the world on a laptop or similar. I agree with Mary T that it would be great if somehow we could keep the challenges going and the iopportuntiy to put our work out there at a national exhibition. Yes symposium and its national showcase will continue but this is biennial. what can we do in the other year?

  4. Melissa Gelder says:

    I am relatively new to the quilting world and joined Aotearoa Quilters because I wanted to tap into a nationwide resource that binds the New Zealand quilting community together. As a member of the Auckland Quilt Guild Committee (Education) I was looking for a cohesive list of tutors available throughout the country. This still stands so if you teach, please send your teaching CV to me, Melissa Gelder, P.O. Box 54015, The Marina, Auckland, 2144.

    Regarding closure of Aotearoa Quilters, what sad day for quilters in New Zealand. Perhaps any future incarnation of a National Quilting body could look to more successful overseas models and follow examples there.

    All the best, and watching with interest,

  5. Sonya Prchal says:

    I have just got back from a week at Great Barrier Island and am very sad to get the letter.
    I love being involved in the exhibitions and the challenges, and would be sad to have this disbanded. If it is too expensive being involved with the Australian group for the show, lets try going it alone and do our own show somewhere else. I agree the online interest is much bigger now, so we could do most challenges online and just a travelling exhibition once a year. I would like Aotearoa Quilters to continue, I love to enter quilts each year and enter the challenges as they come up, I would be sad if this finished because of low members and funding. If we could each encouraged 1-2 people each to join, would this be enough? Can most administration be done online to save costs? I now new Zealand is small but we achieve great things together lets pull together and make this work. I am very busy, but would like to help if I can help online. Lets keep Aotearoa Quilters going..
    All the best.

  6. Yvonne Roberts says:

    Oh dear, as an foundation member and committee member for 6 years it saddens me that Aotearoa Quilters find again they are not attracting new members and have to consider winding down.

    We all know things evolve and change and the present committee are to be congratulated as they have tried many new ideas and approaches.

    Does belonging to Aoteroa not appeal to the majority as maybe it is seen as an elitist/art group. Although now there are many more interested in this area of textile art than a few years ago. Of the many traditional quilters most have no interest in AQ as they are are catered for by classes in shops and guilds as well as by magazines and on line sites. It is hard to sell AQ to a group because the first thing they want to know is “whats in it for us?” No mater how hard you try, if you are the only enthusiastic person and don’t get the support its a hiding to know where. I know as I have tried many times but to no avail.

    It would have been very pleasing by the number of entries to the Red challenge so this small sized challenge does have appeal . The challenges seem to be the one thing that is keeping those remaining members in AQ. However organsations don’t run by themselves nor without the input of a great deal of hard work by a few, as well as a sound financial base is needed.

    I’m not sure if I have any answers or my comments helpful but maybe as MaryT suggests an on line group using whatever finance is left to set up this. If I can be of any help please let me know.


  7. Juliet Fitness says:

    Like those who have already replied, I was also shocked to read that AQ was once again on the brink of folding due to decreasing membership. A case of deja vu as I remembered the last occasion and how I tried to rally the members at Western Quilters Circle, but much like Yvonne, I often got “what is in it for me” and knowing that very few of them were interested in challenges I did wonder what was in it for them.

    Like Sonya I have always been glad of the challenges and annual exhibition as a chance to enter my work and extend myself. I was surprised to read that Quilts Aotearoa is no longer the viable exhibition it used to be, though of course I guess it depends on whether it is close to a Symposium exhibition. Quite honestly, and I know I am not alone in feeling this, if there is no Quilts Aotearoa at the Craft Fair in Hamilton, I doubt I will attend in future. The quilts were always the major attraction for me. I do feel that quilters will be worse off for not having an annual national exhibition to strive for, and I think this is something that we should try and maintain. Or perhaps have as a biennial event on non-Symposium years.

    I think the Committee have done a great job in trying to rebrand AQ, and we must always remember that all committees are manned by volunteers, who put in long hours to promote their passion. However, I think the website has failed at times, with promises that have not been kept, such as monthly blog entries. I have been trying to put Western Quilters show next March in the calendar of events, but despite entering details on the form a couple of times, I have had no response and the calendar is not available. This is the sort of thing that doesn’t help the association. Mary T commented that she was surprised there was so little comment about the sad state of affairs. Well, I was all prepared to post a comment on the website when I got my letter early on, but the letter/page was not there to comment on.

    I am very aware that many quilters are no longer as young as they used to be, and are stepping back from active involvement in many club and group activities, and this could also be a cause of decreasing membership. Certainly it is something that is happening at club level, and the younger generation don’t seem as interested in getting involved in groups, or maybe they just don’t have the time. Western Quilters is heading for its 30th anniversary next year, but unless there is a full committee prepared to do the work, the club may close its doors. There seems to be a lot of apathy around, and people who say they have already done their bit to help run things.

    Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the Special General Meeting, but I will certainly be supporting the Blue Challenge.

  8. Paula Cole says:

    I have been with Aotearoa Quilters since the start and Quilts Aotearoa since the first show as part of the Craft and Quilt Fair in Hamilton. I am very disappointed to know we will not have an Annual Exhibition in Hamilton next year. Will we miss that major annual exhibition of work in New Zealand? I would hope so. Will we miss the Biennial Challenge and the other challenges? NZ needs a national association – members provide strength in numbers but we have not had sufficient numbers of members to provide a financial base to run the Association. As Sonya Prchal said, if we all got 2 more members each, that would be sufficient. I can see a time when NZ should start preserving its quilts of years gone by, and I see a national association being responsible for that. So members out there, tell us what you want/expect from AQ – give us some concrete suggestions and by all means come to the Special General Meeting in Wellington on Saturday, 1 February 2014.

  9. Kathleen Burford says:

    I too am very sorry to hear Aotearoa Quilters may have to close, as I feel in the South Island we will have no real connection with the North Island quilters other than Symposiums which the cost of attending is becoming prohibitive for many quilters to attend hence the mini symposiums that are held on alternate years. These organisations do not happen by them selves but require a great deal of commitment from dedicated people. I will miss entering the challenges as I feel they are so special to OUR Kiwi culture. An online group would be one way of continuing a National association but this too would require commitment. I know Katherine has tried to increase membership in Christchurch and most quilters are just not interested as they feel they would not gain any benefits, how do we change this? we have a core group of younger quilters in Christchurch maybe a survey of what they want would help.

  10. I think it would be terrible to lose our national quilting association in NZ. The yearly competitions and challenges are wonderful. They help us define quilting in NZ and give us a goal to work towards in our quilting work. I love the yearly exhibition. The show is how I feel connected to other quilters in NZ. Especially since I am a art quilter and find that most people in my local area are traditional quilters that I don’t really identify with artistically. With the price of postage rapidly rising overseas competitions and challenges are getting almost impossible to enter so we need our Nationwide challenges and competitions to stay.

    I would agree with the comments above regarding the website though. I have found it difficult to follow at times and unhelpful although in saying that I also realise that this is a voluntary committee and people can only give what they can. But if we went to an on-line group this would need to change.

    I would like to give so suggestions of why younger ones aren’t stepping forward to help from my view. I have been a member on an off for a number of years and I am in my early 40’s.

    * I still have family at home and I am unable to give the hours needed as I actuality don’t have any more hours available. It isn’t because of apathy or laziness. I just cannot fit it in. Reality for many families is that both parents need to work and have so many other commitments ‘extra’ things just have to be put aside.
    * Cost. Paying for subs, postage, entry fees, travel mounts up. They are possibly manageable if you have not family at home but with growing children they are extra cost which can be hard to find. I would love to go to symposium, master classes etc but time wise and financially it is impossible. These programmes are fantastic and should still be offered but I just want to say how hard it is for growing families in NZ. I generally save up for a class every 2-3 years.
    * I sometimes feel ‘very young’ and therefore inexperienced even though I have been quilting for 16 years. That may make some people feel uncomfortable in stepping forward.
    * illness: Even the young ones get sick. I have been unable to participate in the show for a few year due to illness.

    I would love to see more reason to pay subs and re join each year. I have only been joining to enter the yearly exhibition and because for illness I haven’t even done that the last 2 years. A better on-line presence would be beneficial for younger members especially if we could have on line classes or tutorials. These still could be paid for but may be helpful time wise and save on travel costs and accommodation costs. Many overseas groups do this now. We could research how successful these have been. The group may get more unification with on line forums/discussions of relevant quilting subjects in NZ.

    In response to Mary’s comments “In general belonging to groups is not what today’s younger generations like to do. They would rather “pay to participate” and not commit to ongoing possible activities” I love to belong to groups. I find them supportive and enriching. When I started quilting at the age of 26 I found the people lovely but I really didn’t identify with them as most were retired. I have learned a lot over the years from them and I have gained some lovely friends but I would love to be able to attend groups with people nearer to my age and interest sometimes. I think there are probably other ‘young ones’ like me who would love to contribute and commit more but are unable too.

    I would love to see our National association stay.

  11. Camilla Watson says:

    First of all – many, many thanks and greatest appreciation to all the fabulous members who have given their time and energy to Aotearoa Quilters (and previously NANZQ) over the years. I too am very sad to hear of the probably demise, but not surprised. My local Coastal Quilters has also struggled for several years to get member involvement for committee etc and I think the various internet groups are probably having an impact as well as what I perceive as increased demands on peoples time. With my workload in 2013 I have not actually completed one new quilt. 🙁 I have also failed miserably at attracting new members to Aotearoa Quilters. Perhaps one of the problems with A.Q. is also one of its main reasons for being – the fact that it is a national organisation seems to make it irrelevant to many, particularly those who are not interested in competitions or exhibitions. I think perhaps the directive of the organisation was too broad.

    Idea #1 – A National Organisation (I prefer ‘NANZQ’ to ‘AO’ actually, it sounds more inclusive) with a quilting promotion and heritage focus.
    Split off the exhibition section (see Idea #2) of AO and make all quilt guilds and clubs part of the National Association funded by a small portion of all memberships. All guild committee members would have voting rights (you want a say, or to go to conference, you have to be on the committee – incentive 🙂 ) and a yearly weekend conference to discuss in person matters arising such as advertising ‘quilting’ in the general media, documenting historical quilts, lobbying local museums etc.

    Idea #2 – Exhibitions – Here’s an idea to mull over – (Anne??) If there was going to be anything moving forward it would have to be financially viable and self-sustaining. I would think that maybe there could be something run independantly but ‘attached’ to Anne Scotts ‘NZ Quilter’ which would be a natural fit. Anne has the database for advertising and the wherewithall to organise and run events such as exhibitions. However I’m sure she is plenty busy enough so it would require someone extra be employed on a short-term, limited basis to organise. As exhibition entries for the Hamilton show have been down anyway I would envisage something more on the scale and style of the ‘Red’ Challenge or similar to the ‘Hoffman’ Challenge. (200 ‘Blue’ entries would look fabulous anywhere!) Perhaps two travelling exhibitions biannually, alternate to the Symposium – one of small pieces, one larger, alternating perhaps between ‘Traditional’ and ‘Art’ on alternate years.

    As mentioned – this needs to be self-funding and self-sustaining. Entry fees may need to be increased to cover the employment of someone to organise setting up the challenge and the exhibition venues. I do not feel another $5 or $10 on an entry fee is going to prohibit anyone from entering – these days that’s a coffee or two, or one day of having mince or sausages for dinner instead of chicken or steak. (There coulld always be a ‘hardship’ clause for those who really couldn’t pay.) And/or a dollar or two from all guild memberships to support the exhibition organisation (paid as a ‘gift’ from each club which will I think get around legalities).

    Anyway – I hope someone finds these comments interesting or inspiring and that we can find a way to keep a National Association of some kind going.

  12. Robin Fuller says:

    Question? When was the last time we (AQ) spoke with Kris Pilton of the NZ Spinning, Weaving & Woolcrafts Society Inc., Margaret Erskine of the A. of NZ Embroiderers Guild Inc., and Anne Scott of the NZ Quilter magazine and what did they tell us about the success or otherwise of their activities please?

  13. Anne Groufsky says:

    I am sorry to read that Aotearoa Quilters is considering winding up. This almost happened several years ago and while the new committee and rebranding has helped it appears that the real problem of increasing membership is not an easy one to solve.

    For the majority of patchworkers in New Zealand the local groups and guilds plus the Symposia and Mini-symposiums do an excellent job of looking after their members. I wonder if there is a perception that Aotearoa Quilters is for ‘the arty quilter, not someone like me’ and immediately they look no further at what is being offered.
    The colour challenges are very suitable for all levels and the idea of having the pieces exhibited all together and in 2014 in the South and North Islands is excellent.
    The Quilts Aotearoa exhibition held in Hamilton ( and once also in Christchurch) showcases traditional and modern patchwork. Unfortunately it falls on the local members to organise and run it and now that it is no longer viable then is it worth it? I personally do not enter every year and I have only been to Hamilton to see it twice.
    The travelling biennial challenge and the annual scholarship are good initiatives that are very different from what is being offered elswhere but perhaps they only appeal to a very few quilters.

    I wonder if there are different opportunities these days as people are busy and are not as keen to take on committee duties.
    What are quilters doing instead?
    Small groups of like minded quilters tend to get together on a more informal basis and they do not need to live in the same country. Look at the 12 x12 group that wrote a book of their experiences and exhibitied their quilts all over the world. The internet offers a wealth of information including access to online courses, opportunities for classes as private individuals bring tutors to New Zealand, places to exhibit work such as Changing Threads in Nelson.

    I looked up The Australian Forum for Textile Arts who are responsible for publishing the Textile Fibre Forum. They organise Forums throughout Australia during the year but they offer support to ALL textile crafts.
    Perhaps we are being too narrow in focussing only on patchwork and quilting.

    Yes, I will miss the Biennial challenge and the Quilts Aotearoa exhibitions but to be honest I did not always have the time to enter them regularly.
    However, I will miss seeing the very high standard of work seen in these exhibitions. But the very high standard is often as a result of a good education programme. This has been a difficult area to manage. The idea of the Master class is good, a week of classes offered by a wide range of craft tutors to involve all the craft disciplines and therefore have a wider pool to draw from? Perhaps many of these things are being done all ready and the problem is of communication and the need for a some sort of ‘umbrella’ group? The embroiderers, weavers, felters etc out there may all be having the same problems.

    It is very easy to sit and stitch at home alone as making quilts is after all a solo activity. But now and then I want to make contact and talk to like minded people and be inspired by their work and their company. Groups like Aotearoa Quilters are part of the New Zealand craft scene so if it winds up then I hope that something else, maybe slightly different, eventually takes its place.

    I have no answers, only comments but it has forced me to sit down and think about what is important to me and hopefully others.

  14. I would like to propose that the money we have in hand ($7000, I understand) be used to re-invent ourselves as a national association.
    My memory is not what it used to be but I am fairly sure that I am a foundation member of this association and almost from day one have been aggrieved at the ‘exclusions’ by the so-called national association.
    It is no use revisiting those and I understand that the constitution now would not allow us to wind up the association and start anew without losing the money we have accrued. So we must look to the future and to do that we have to establish the reasons for a national association to exist.
    In my humble opinion it would or should:
    – primarily foster the art and the craft (and there is a perception that the two are different) of quilting. The original association was established to promote quilting as an art which marginalised many quilters. It should have been then linked more to fibre art than quilting and left a quilting association for the ‘crafters’. In a bigger market such as the USA folk quilts have regularly made the transition to art ie Gees Bend. Our population aside there is nothing to stop New Zealand quilts receiving the highest accolades in either the art or quilt world.
    – be the catalyst for all things quilting in New Zealand
    – disseminate information on, for example local tutors, shops and clubs to guilds and clubs around New Zealand
    – be the ‘holder of record’ for our national symposia. By that I mean: all the usual events that a national association would, under normal circumstances, hold annually or bi-annually such as exhibitions, key-note speakers, local and international tutors and classes that are presently run by areas. There are no records, databases or systems kept at a national level or in perpetuity. As a convenor of a previous symposium I know that almost a year’s work is spent establishing a format (it is human nature try to be better than the last one) but at some considerable expense. For example I commissioned software to manage registrations, classes, participants, tutors and entertainment that cost $9000 eight years ago. It was very simple and worked without fault. It was offered to the following symposium organisers but rejected. Now if something like that was held by a national association along with organisational diaries etc then future events would be much less arduous to run. I am not suggesting that the national association run them just that they ensure that the events continue and prosper.
    – hold an exhibition annually or alternating with symposia. It does not have to be in conjunction with a craft fair (though I suspect that the Hamilton craft fair might cease to exist in its present form should we not align ourselves with them). It could be a smaller juried exhibition that all would/could aspire to at say at Pataka.
    – establish a training overview for the certification of tutors and judges in conjunction with a technical institute.
    – encourage community involvement around the country by maybe picking a charity such as Women’s Refuge that would benefit from the gift of quilts or quilts to raffle
    – research and record quilts and quilting in New Zealand for history. At present it is as though we hold this great big wonderful party every second year and it disappears in a puff of batting. Quilting in New Zealand doesn’t even get a day older. There are no trophies to carry a record of the ultimate winners, there is no archive to carry a record of these events, there is no honours board for achievers. There is absolutely nothing to tell us what happened last year or last century – what a shame.
    – liaise with Australia, at least on joint exhibitions, challenges and maybe touring tutors and speakers.
    I understand this discussion has been triggered because of a falling membership. This must also be addressed. Problem is that until the association knows what its aim and objectives are any recruitment is doomed to fail. We cannot front any guild, club or individual, demanding money for membership and give nothing in return.
    My understanding as a mere member now is that I get a newsletter fairly regularly, I can enter into exhibitions and challenges and I …
    It is a poor return for my subscription.
    I think that all quilters should be able to affiliate through their own guild or club or be a member at large. I know this will take a skilful negotiator to bring all the bigger guilds into line but surely we are all members for the same reason. Affiliation does not take away autonomy. A few years ago I ran a competition to find the right word for a gathering of quilters and although there were the odd offerings such as a ‘gaggle’ the eventual winner was a ‘binding’ of quilters. Would that we could do that on a national level.
    I have been a member of the Auckland Guild (the largest in New Zealand) for 23 years now and never in all that time, at any meeting or in any newsletter has the national association been mentioned.
    How can we hope to recruit members if a group like that are basically unaware of our existence?
    I think we are on the back foot from the get-go. Is there a comprehensive list of quilting guilds, clubs or even individual that we can target? And if not, why not? We have been a national association for I guess about 10-15 years and we haven’t even got a handle on possible members.
    I think the membership side of this problem would quickly be sorted with some diplomatic negotiation and good financial advice. We have to be able to offer valid reasons for our existence and a comprehensive answer to ‘why join the national association?
    On the financial side:
    – affiliation through an existing group need only be at a rate of say $1 per person per annum because once we have them on board then if would be up to us to sell the advantages of becoming a full member
    – entry into exhibitions and challenges should be self-supporting or pay as you go
    – newsletters cost nothing to send out so clubs and guilds could automatically send the newsletter editor a copy of their own so news could be spread across the country. The more we know about each group the more we can share and understand each other.
    – the existence of clubs is not a competition.
    – archiving systems could probably be established with a grant from one of art funding groups
    – art funding may help in other areas
    We do not need a highfalutin definition or name. We need good common sense aimed at all the extra-ordinary quilters of New Zealand. Aotearoa Quilters could be a long-arm quilting outfit down the road. The National Association of New Zealand Quilters is repetitive and inappropriate – what is wrong with New Zealand (or if you prefer, Aotearoa) Quilters’ Association?
    Having said all this I do not want to, in any way, detract from those women who have spent many hours on the association, achieving many great things. I only intended here to offer a couple of suggestions

  15. I am a former member of the society when it was NANZQ. Many organisations in NZ operate successfully with a national organisation supported by the regional clubs (like Creative Fibre, which I belong to). However, I think a part of the problem is the proliferation of informal quilting and patchwork groups who feel no need to be affiliated with a national organisation. As a consequence, AQ has struggled in its role as a national body because it has been under supported. I am no longer a member of any groups because my creative community is worldwide and online, and I seldom exhibit.

    We also have the situation here where the one quilting magazine is a private business, unlike in America where subscription to AQS includes the magazine, as well as many other benefits that address the “what’s in it for me?” question. This is also the case in the UK. It appears that we have gone down a different evolutionary path that may be heading for a dead end.

    I’m sorry that I have no helpful suggestions as to how to revitalise the organisation. Perhaps it needs to die and be reborn in some other format.


  16. Robin Fuller says:

    No offence taken Natalie. Theirs is the time and money they have invested in the Association and we salute them.
    However, personally, having achieved the P & Q Diploma with City and Guilds I had to go outside of NZ (UK) to continue my studies because no one to my knowledge in NZ is making distance learning available specifically in P & Q and I mean as in studying for a degree.
    Two things are clear to me from your comments 1. a National association should continue and 2. provide benefits to a wider market in keeping with your suggestions.
    Sending messages to members smart phones is must in the future and if necessary join with one of the other ‘art and craft’ associations to enjoy their benefits and the depth and breadth of every person interested and compliant with “Textile Art”. As your suggest paying $1 to start is an excellent idea.

  17. Robin Fuller says:

    Natalie, I second your motion, and

    Shirley, I propose that we take-over the Quilters Magazine

  18. Ann Irving says:

    I wish to thank you for the swatch buddies that I won but what do I do with them ?

    I have not been a member for long but was really thrilled to take a part in a small achievable Red competition and actually sell something. This competition was great as it was something that was not too scary and didn’t take too long to make.

    I would be really sorry to see the AQ fold but do not have any suggestions about booasting members as it seems to be a problem for most clubs . An affiliation fee sounds a good idea if it would work Ann Irving

  19. Catherine says:

    HI everyone
    Please keep the comments coming. Its great to get your feedback. Please encourage others to comment as well.
    Regarding the idea of groups paying $1 per member as a starting point to raising funds and membership – it would be great if you had some feedback from others in your group that they would support this. This is the major difference between us and the spinners and embroiderers guilds. I have spoken with the embroiderers and it is this foundation of a fee per member of their member groups that helps them finance a lot of their work. It also gives them the opportunity to pay for work to be done which would be great in keeping more stuff on the website.
    Regarding the NZ quilter – it is an independent business therefore can not be part of AQ. We would need a lot more finance to enable us to add a section to this each publication. It is also the fees the embroiderers get that help pay for the magazine.
    Please keep the comments coming – much appreciated

  20. Juliet Fitness says:

    I have just caught up on all the comments since I posted a couple of days ago, and in particular want to say thanks to Natalie for all the time and effort she put into her comment. One bit that really got me thinking was the lack of historical record of achievements at say, Quilts Aotearoa. While it is lovely to have a sewing machine as a major prize, a trophy with one’s name on, to keep for the year is well worth striving for.

    She raised the subject of Auckland Quilt Guild never mentioning the national association. I think it needs to be up to members of the association to promote the association to whatever club/group they are a member of. For years I used to promote NANZQ’s membership form in Western Quilters’ newsletter, each year when membership was due for renewal, and when NANZQ nearly folded, I put a big plea into our newsletter for members to join and one or two did join initially. How many of our members are still AQ members, I wouldn’t have a clue. As I said before, I did get an awful lot of “what is in it for me?”. I have a reputation at the club for being the only person who regularly goes in for national competitions or exhibitions.

    One problem I encounter frequently is older quilters with no computer. It is very easy for those us who email all the time, and frequently use the computer, to assume that everyone is in that situation. But I know I have helped non-computerised quilters to enter a quilt into a competition for instance. Robin Fuller suggests sending messages to members via smart phones as a must in future. Good for you, if you have cellphone coverage. I do not have a cellphone because I have no coverage where I live!

    Technology is wonderful, but we must always remember that not everyone has it.

    I think an affiliation fee for all quilters who are members of a club anywhere in NZ is a great idea, and if they knew what they were affiliated to and the benefits of it, even better. Personally, I will always try to be a full member of any national quilting association of NZ, and yes I also think the name is not a true representation.

    Finally I was really interested to read Catherine Parkinson’s take on the whole matter, as a younger quilter. Reading her comments I was taken back to my earlier quilting days, initially with small children when I couldn’t even contemplate being a member of a group or club, and then financially strapped years when membership of Western Quilters and the occasional class and competition was all I could afford, and time was so precious that no way could I be a member of a committee. So it seems nothing changes with the next generation.


  21. Lesley Christiansen says:

    Since receiving my copy of the letter regarding the future of AQ I have spent a great deal of time gardening – thus plenty of time for thought, today I’m ready to share my ‘thinking’.

    I am a founding member, (having made myself available for the committee previously) and have been involved in patchwork & quilting for over 25 years.

    Have we considered amalgamation with Australia? My observation tells me that the various state guilds in Australia operate separately, but have a cohesive council to bind them together.

    Have we been trying to do too much? Trying to be like the older better established overseas groups that we strive to be like.

    As with most organisations, a new broom, by nature, tries to ‘sweep clean’ and admirable attempts have been made to modernise and make us interesting. But, have we achieved the first two words listed at the bottom of this and other pages on the website in Our Mission – “to promote”.

    It is easy to be apathetic and expect ‘them’ to get on with doing it, but then that is the mantel that committees should accept when taking on such a roll.

    I am not in favour of winding up AQ.

  22. Sarah Martin says:

    I am new to quilting. The club I belong to is a member of Aotearoa Quilters (I love the name). I would strongly support it continuing as I believe there are many functions a national organisation can fulfil that no other body can. To attract members, it must do something that cant be accessed anywhere else, and I can think of so many functions that only a national body can do.
    If there is anything I can contribute I would.

  23. Lesley Christiansen says:

    Interesting that since I posted these comments I added a note to the Kiwi Quilters group. From the comments so far people didn’t know about the name change or were not aware that there was such and organisation.

  24. Roz Willmott-Dalton says:

    I believe it is very important for AQ to remain.

    To the un-educated, or non-quilter, quilting is often seen as just a craft, something ‘old ladies’ do. But with having a national association, the title alone, gives a credibility to the art, a new angle. something a bit more serious.

    In the years I have been quilting, the average age has definintely lowered. There is an emerging group of younger, and more modern quilters coming through. I believe having a National association helps encourage this, and should continue to do so.

    The challenges are an important outlet for those quilters who produce works that are of a higher standard, or are more art-like/deep and meaningful, than their local guild may understand or appreciate. In turn, having travelling exhinitions helps with the promotion of the art, and the association.

    Having served on a quilt group committee for the past 5 years, I can see a problem passing an ‘affiliation fee’. There will be those committee members who have no idea what a national association is all about, unless there is an ‘older’ committee member, who has some history behind her. Then the treasureers, who challenge the justification of why the group should pay the fee of $1 per member. A committee will want some pretty good reasons why they should pay out their members dues on something they may not all benefit from. – if you have members who grumble about paying 50c for a library book, there will be many members who will grumble about $1, or $150 of club money going to a National Association.

    To promote the association and the benefits, surely an investment, or negotiation with NZ Quilter, to have a column, or permenant ad, is essential.

    Promotion between guilds and groups takes pro-active newsletter editors.

    As Natalie Murdoch said,
    – newsletters cost nothing to send out so clubs and guilds could automatically send the newsletter editor a copy of their own so news could be spread across the country. The more we know about each group the more we can share and understand each other.
    – the existence of clubs is not a competition.

    A website presence is essential, if nothing else.

    Promotion of AQ to groups needs to be more than just a newsletter to increase membership. Perhaps some investment needs to be made to send a committee member/s to Guild and group meetings around the country to speak, show some quilts from previous exhibitions, a cd of images etc. to get some interest. If people see a face, it’s more likely notice will be taken. Yet it will be just as important to make sure not to be intimidating to newer or younger quilters, who may think they are not skilled enough to join.

    So much has been done by very dedicated members, it would be a shame for the associaton to fold, and lose all of that work.

  25. Timothe Mansfield says:

    A few years ago when NANZQ changed to Aotearoa Quilters it seemed new life was being breathed into the organisation. There were a few local programmes but these fizzled and there was little encouragement for rank and file participation. After 10 years in the organisation I discontinued my membership.

  26. Sonya Prchal says:

    After reading all the comments, I have some more thoughts.

    I agree if trying to encourage new members they say ” what do I get out of it?”
    I thought, what do I get? I get; entering challenges – small are best less time commitment.
    exhibiting once a year – I wouldn’t attend Hamilton either if their were no quilts.

    This is all, the blog was a nice idea but things put out for discussion were not of interest.
    I would like an online forum/discussion, I it was done though Google people with smart phones would get notifications and but able to respond and add discussion easily. Some subjects I would like to discuss are – New products and their uses.
    – Tips for quilters -post these as you discover them.
    – Entering quilts overseas

    I suggest all NZ quilt clubs information to be on the web and Aotearoa’s web get linked to clubs which have a blog/web. Communication is essential.

    Another suggestion, tutor profiles on the web, so all clubs have somewhere to get good information.

    I would like Aotearoa Quilters to continue and would like to help with online discussion, I feel we all need to have some involvement to continue.

  27. Noeleen Taylor says:

    As a foundation member of NZQA I thought it would be a great thing to have standardised judging, NZ wide quilt news and information about quilt shows and competitions with Info. about tutors. It all collapsed when newsletters stopped coming, fees did not get receipts, and… I found real people in a quilt club where I was living,and more lovely people again when we moved.
    Last year at Western Quilters a national tutor talked about Aotearoa Quilters and so I looked it up on the computer.Eh? There are places we buy our fabrics, there are guilds and clubs throughout NZ, and shows to which we travel- why was the change so quiet for those of us now outside the association? Maybe it’s apathy, or age, but I’m happy for my quilt club to share information about the challenges and competitions available to us. I did enjoy looking at the quilts so well displayed in Taupo last year, but chose not to attend symposium.

  28. Margy Wanty says:

    I have been patching and quilting on and off for about 20 years. I do not belong to any group or guild and have done it through local classes and magazines until I found the symposia which I attend. I had no idea what NZQA was and at one symposium was told by someone they were the national body and they voted on where the next symposium was to be held.

    So my misconception was they were a national committee and not much more.

    As Natalie said it would be great if they kept a record of all prizes given/awarded in new Zealand and also those New Zealand Quilters won overseas.

    An updated list of groups, guilds with contact numbers would also be helpful.

    You can find a lot of advice on line but it would be sooo much easier to have one website with this information including tutorials on. I am very big on my few favourite websites as I need help navigating the net.

    Many have talked about “what does it do for me…” but I feel it should be a two way thing so “what can I do for it…” should also apply. Is there a way where members could share their knowledge, tips or do fun things so they are involved and interacting not just receiving.
    We all know we are never to old to learn and some tips or easier ways just make sense.

    What about running a blog hop or two during the year (mid winter xmas, waitangi day, anzac day could be themes) and asking an area for people to do it (they seem to have 7-10 days) but hosted by the organisation. I have seen these and while there is a lot of foundation piecing, there are other forms of quilting also.

    If AQ keeps going I will become a member and encourage those around me to become members also.

  29. Amy Pond says:

    It would be sad to see Aotearoa Quilters wind up, but I can see the difficulties involved in continuing.

    I am a relatively new quilter (8 years).

    I don’t like the negative connotation of “what’s in it for me?”, but have to point out that there are numerous online communities out there that provide support, inspiration, tips, tutorials, swaps, challenges, etc, all for free. It is very hard to compete with some of the bigger sites.

    I pay to belong to my guild because I get monthly meetings (with supper), show n tell for inspiration, occasional guest speakers, and the camaraderie of spending time with other quilters. In other words, I get something for my money.

    From my point of view, membership to Aotearoa Quilters would really only allow me to enter challenges, and competing is simply not something I’m interested in.

    If Aotearoa Quilters are to continue, perhaps a lot more engagement with guilds is the direction to go. I have checked out the website while writing my comments, and was surprised at some of the things offered to members – I was totally unaware there was a forum available and articles. Engaging with guilds to get this information out there would be a good start – perhaps having a representative from each guild to liaise directly with Aotearoa Quilters Committee (via emails, etc, rather than physically attending meetings). The flow of information could go both ways. I understand the guild I belong to is a member of Aotearoa Quilters but nothing seems to filter through to the guild members. I don’t know if this is because there is nothing of interest to our guild, or if the person receiving the information does not pass it on.

    Lastly, on the issue of technology and not everyone being online – while there has to be options available for those without internet access, the future of Aotearoa Quilters simply must be online. Suggesting otherwise is like saying let’s not build any more roads because not everyone has a car. Like any sport/hobby, the future of quilting is in the youngest’s hands and to those people technology is simply another useful tool, just like the rotary cutter or EQ. Not using it would be a handicap.

  30. Shirley Sparks says:

    I am also sad to see the AQ come to an end, but the reality is without a strong membership it is not possible. The present and past committee’s have worked hard to recruit more members so I don’t think it is going happen in the near future.
    As the annual exhibition and challenges are the things that most of those who commented above are going to be sad to see go I am wondering if it is possible to continue with them. My suggestion is a small committee organise an exhibition alternate years to symposium and held in different parts of the country each time. To do this a group/s in the area could be asked to help with the running. It would be good to have it in alternate islands to symposium
    too. The biannual challenge could have it’s opening at this exhibition and then travel to
    galleries around the country. The 12 inch challenges could be each year, maybe at
    symposium and this exhibition. All this costs so entry fees would need to cover all costs and
    Quilters would need to make commitments to help out when it is in their area.

    I also think NZ should be keeping records of top awards in a central place and maybe this could be started by approaching symposium committees for a grant from the profits made to
    get this under way. However I’m not sure if Aotearoa quilters should take on this roll.

    For Aotearoa Quilters to have any chance of survival the focus needs to be on what we know members want even if that is only an exhibition every two years then over time maybe there
    will be an opportunity to grow again in a new direction.

    I would like to put my apologies forward for the meetings in Wellington. I wish the committee well during these difficult times.

  31. Further to my earlier comments and in response to others – the national association has to be much, much more than the organiser of an annual exhibition and challenges. If that is, or has been, the perception then it is not surprising that membership is falling. Competitive quilting is not for everyone – we know how difficult it is to get members to show at club level.

    The national association should be the holder for all quilting information – clubs by locality, classes, tutors, retail outlets, exhibitions (here and overseas), competitions (here and overseas). It should be the holder of record and history. In essence it should be the go-to place for any quilting information.

    As the current committee members will form a large part of the quorum at the meeting in Wellington is it possible for us to get individual feedback on where they stand on this question. Obviously they have discussed it as a group and would be reluctant to wind up the association after all their hard work but I am sure that the constitution does not require them to vote as a group.

    Unfortunately I am unable to attend the meeting so would like to give my apologies. I want to also offer to take over the role as newsletter editor.

  32. Catherine says:

    thanks for the offer of newsletter editor Natalie. This will be welcomed if the association continues. You have given some very good comments back tot he committee and a lot of it we have thought about in the past but the real issue is cashflow into the future and resources to do the work. IF we could get the membership up we could do more for members on a regular basis.

  33. I only heard yesterday about the possibility of AO winding up. This is very sad news indeed.
    I want to say I wholeheartedly agree with Natalie Murdoch’s comments as above:

    “The national association should be the holder for all quilting information – clubs by locality, classes, tutors, retail outlets, exhibitions (here and overseas), competitions (here and overseas). It should be the holder of record and history. In essence it should be the go-to place for any quilting information”.

    This is devastating news to hear that AQ is failing to keep afloat in tough times as it is currently but, if the association does continue how about they contact every shop throughout New Zealand and have them promote membership for the association, including membership from the shops themselves.

    All shops could have membership forms on their counters and perhaps flyers promoting AQ. and the benefits of becoming a member.

    The internet these days provides a large source of finding information – I guess what I am trying to say is a strong internet presence could be one answer.

    I for one would be happy to email on the association’s behalf any information needing to be sent out to current or prospective members.

  34. Maria Rohs says:

    I don’t believe AQ should be wound up. We must have a national association.

    Personally I like the idea that the Embroiderers Guild has. Charge a levy as part of the sub from all members of every club and guild. It happens in sport so why not in quilting? I know ChCh Quilters has quite a low sub and an extra say $10 or 15 p.a. would be the cost of 2 or 3 coffees, as a previous contributor above has written. Does anyone know how many members of quiltclubs there are in NZ?

  35. Shirley Sparks says:

    I agree that there should be a central place for keeping records etc and the system the embroidery guilds use seems to be a good one. However to do this with quilting the clubs throughout the country would all need to agree with this and adjust their member subs accordingly. Is this what most NZ quilters want? Would it work if only some guilds supported the concept of a national association (governing body)? How can we move forward and put this in place? If AQ were to do this they will need a lot of support to get guilds involved and change the constitution to become the national governing body. My understanding is that the present constitution allows for them to run like other guilds and is therefore at present a guild who draws its membership from the whole country where as most guilds draw there membership from their region.
    I would like to have a governing body for quilting (similar to embroidery) , if you do too please post your suggestions on how to do that and if we are to give AQ the power to become this body how can we support them in getting it up and running.

  36. Mary Culver says:

    Hi everyone
    I have not read all the comments so hope I am not being repetitive – but have done some reflecting over the holiday period.
    I have always appreciated Aotearoa Quilters as a National organization that has been there to support my quilting/textile ‘soul’ particularly when circumstances have prevented me from being an active member of a local club. It has kept me connected with the ‘quilting/textile world even if I have not always been particularly active. I have wondered about how we reach others who are interested but live in more isolated communities or those who through the ‘business’ of life are unable to attend guild meetings but want some connection. So …casting the net wider in terms of where we advertise.

    The other aspect I have thought about is about that of being a National body – it has always seemed a shame to me that guilds have not supported a National body – to have some kind over sight and to provide support to quilting and related arts in NZ. Other organizations in New Zealand are set up in such a way that local groups belong to a National organization, there is interaction , support and an ability to deal with issues that arise. It also gives a voice at a national level that is truly representative of members and textile artists.Somehow there needs to be incentives for guilds to be members that participate in Aotearoa Quilters. NZ is too small for us to be splintered.

    I am happy to support…now to get my blue square to Wellington!

  37. I would be incredibly sad to see AQ being wound up. I want to thank the volunteers for all their efforts.

    As for what could be done? Well, I feel AQ provides one of the few chances in NZ to have a quilt professionally exhibited (i.e. juried and judged), and I was considering applying for the scholarship but had not been a member long enough. But those are probably the only benefits I see. The listing of tutors and events etc is not comprehensive and the blog and article writing is not often enough to keep me coming back. I sent an email a few months ago offering a book review that I had written and never heard back.

    Has anyone seen the new Quilting Focus website and what a great job they are doing of listing quilting related resources (blogs, shops, websites, challenges, tutors) online? This is the sort of thing I would expect from my national organisation.

    Instead of spending such a huge chunk of $$ on getting together face to face, has paying someone to promote and organise AQ been considered? SAQA has one person who is paid to promote and organise exhibitions etc. Because she is paid, she can spend the time on it and has to do a good job to continue to be paid. Obviously there is still a volunteer committee who have an overarching supervisory role.

    Or if that model isn’t appealing, I think there has to be investigation into other successful models overseas to see how they make it work. If we can’t make it work, even with all the rebranding, then something has to change.

    I agree with some previous commenters about getting all guilds on board and part of the levy for belonging goes to a national org – it makes sense and, if your membership is large enough, your fee can be lowered. We have 50 members in our local club – only about 3 belong to AQ – but even if only $5 of their club fee went to AQ, that’s a whole heap more cash to help support activities.

    I have a young family and I won’t be able to make the meeting, although I would make the effort to dial in with Skype or something like that if it was available.

    And I’ve sent off two BLUE squares!

  38. Mary Napper says:

    Hi the meeting is now on and how I wish I could be there, however the cost of airfares to Wgtn at what was realitivly short notice in school holidays made it impossible. I do hope a transcript is published tonight so we are not left waiting to hear.
    There has been a lot of suggestion of Guild levies or such like. We need to remember that some areas don’t have any guild, or quilt group which is a legally constituted group. There are many groups but they just exist. I have asked these small groups in my area many times over the years about a levy or similar. They are not interested, they want to keep their membership fee down so more can join and see no value in joining a national body. A few individulas have joined over the years. Their membership was always short lived and when asked why the reponse is “I got nothing from it”. They don’t enter exhibitions and the exhibitions held are expensive airfares away and members don’t get any discount on entry to the event. They don’t want to do a masterclass and once the mailbag classes stopped (for good sound reason) felt their was nothing else for them.
    We skype for a committee meeting. Some of us whilst having broadband have slow broadband or known so they are cut out from helping on a committee. Please remember we don’t all live in a large metropolitain city.