The Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre will be adorned with a celebration of colour, pattern and design this weekend as locals get to experience the sublime skill of New Zealand quilters.

Many people think of quilting as an old-fashioned activity, but the exhibition was sure to change their minds, as quilting styles and techniques had moved on from what was done in the past, according to organiser Valda Sutton.

The Great New Zealand Quilt Show brings the very best quilters from all over the country to exhibit and compete in a number of competitions.

Some of the quilts on display. Photo / Stephen Parker
Some of the quilts on display. Photo / Stephen Parker

There are two divisions - bed quilts and wall hangings, where the wall hangings are classed as art, as some quilters continue to push boundaries, introducing new techniques and creativity to the craft.

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"The handmade quilts in particular are very special and are future heirloom pieces. We have a real range of quilts - some that can be used and thrown in the washing machine, others like the handmade pieces need to be looked after because they are really special," said Mrs Sutton.

"The public will be blown away by the sheer craft of what people can do."

Quilting is a development from patchwork where centuries ago, scraps of material were pieced together to make a cover. Quilting is simply the process of adding another layer underneath the patchwork and binding the layers together.

The show displays a Members' Exhibition of 79 quilts from all over New Zealand, as well as a Best of New Zealand 'Flight' Challenge, which is a regional competition of 62 quilts. Twenty of these quilts have been chosen to travel around the country over the next year. In addition, a Past Symposia Best of Show will display the range of quilts that have won competitions over the last 20 years, and this will be interesting as people can judge for themselves how styles and techniques have changed over the last couple of decades.

"You can see what was done 20 years ago and looking at today's quilts, they are poles apart," said Mrs Sutton.

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* What: The Great NZ Quilt Show

* Where: Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre

* When: Today-Sunday, 10am-4pm