Handmade quilts bring comfort and joy to Taupō children in care

Published: July 3, 2024

In a new initiative, the Taupō Quiltmakers have partnered with Oranga Tamariki Taupō site to create personalised quilts for local children in care.

This heartwarming collaboration, brought to life by Maxine Sutton, a Workplace Administrator from the Oranga Tamariki Taupō site, has already touched the lives of many children, providing them with not just warmth, but a sense of belonging and comfort.

Linda Bishop and Peggy White from Taupō Quiltmakers
Linda Bishop and Peggy White from Taupō Quiltmakers.

Origins of the project

Maxine, a former member of the Taupō Quiltmakers, has been the linchpin of this project. Her personal connection to the quilt making community and her role at Oranga Tamariki helped bridge the gap between these two worlds. Reflecting on the origins of the initiative, Maxine recalls, “many years ago, when I was still active in the club, I suggested the idea of making quilts for children who have come to the attention of Oranga Tamariki. Initially, the response was hesitant, but with new leadership from Peggy White and Linda Bishop, the idea took flight”.

Under Peggy and Linda’s guidance, the Taupō Quiltmakers embraced this mission wholeheartedly. They began by reaching out to Foster Hope, an NGO who provides children with necessities to ease the transitional period for them and their new caregivers, who directed them to Maxine as the contact for children in need.

A community effort with tamariki at the heart

Maxine emphasised the importance of these quilts being personalised. “They query me about what would suit each child. While they don’t know the children’s names, they tailor the quilts based on gender and age,” she explains.

The collaboration has seen a wonderful response from the children in care and caregivers alike. “So far, we’ve handed out eight quilts,” Maxine shares. “One particularly special quilt was made for a 15-year-old girl with autism who loves teddy bears. It was plush, weighted, velvet, and covered in teddy bears, which she absolutely adored.”

The impact of these quilts extends beyond their practical use. The intricate designs and the love poured into each stitch have made these quilts cherished possessions for the children. The caregivers have also expressed their gratitude, with one noting, “The quilts are amazing, absolutely beautiful. They bring so much joy to the children.”

Maxine is not alone in her efforts. The entire Oranga Tamariki Taupō site support the project, ensuring that the quilts are distributed appropriately, and that feedback is provided to the quiltmakers. This feedback has been crucial in maintaining the enthusiasm of the Taupō Quiltmakers. “Hearing the joy from the children and seeing the gratitude from the caregivers motivates them to keep creating,” Maxine says.

The quilt making process itself is a testament to community spirit. Materials are often donated, and each quilt passes through many hands before completion. From cutting the fabric to sewing the pieces together, every member of the quilt making club contributes their skills. “It’s a labour of love,” Maxine remarks. “These quilts are not just beautiful, they are heirlooms.”

Maxine’s passion for quilting is deeply rooted in her heritage. “My culture, my history, is American Indian. So, blankets and moccasins. It’s about passing on warmth and comfort,” she reflects. This cultural connection adds an extra layer of meaning to the quilts, making them more than just blankets but symbols of care and continuity.

As the project grows, the Taupō Quiltmakers and Oranga Tamariki Taupō site hope to expand their reach, providing more children with these treasured quilts. Maxine and her colleagues continue to advocate for children, ensuring that each quilt finds its way to a child who needs it.

Taupō quilts
Quilts displayed at the Taupō site.