Erebus memorials

The memorial cross on Mount Erebus. The cross is located approximately 3 km south-east of the 1979 crash site. This stainless steel cross was erected on 30 January 1987 to replace the original wooden one, which had eroded. 

Later memorials and memorial services

Since the first anniversary of the Erebus disaster on 28 November 1980 further memorials have been erected and services have been held to commemorate those who died.

In New Zealand

In advance of the first anniversary of the disaster a memorial was erected at Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland, above the gravesite of the people whose remains were not positively identified. Inscribed upon it were the names of the 44 people who had either not been positively identified or whose bodies had not been recovered from the crash site. A brass plaque was added to commemorate all those who died. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Morrie Davis, and representatives of the flight and cabin crew members who died, were among those to lay wreaths at the dedication ceremony on 28 November 1980.

Other memorials were dedicated on the first anniversary, prompted by the loss of individual community members. In Warkworth a walkway was named after Beverley Price, a member of the Auckland walkway committee who had died in the disaster. In Whangaparaoa, St Stephen's Anglican Church unveiled a stained glass window that had been commissioned to commemorate the death of eight local people, including Rev Peter Tanton.

Memorial tree

In Kihikihi, just south of Te Awamutu, there is a memorial tree to Cecil and Jack Emmett, two local community members who died in the disaster. It is not known whether this memorial was unveiled shortly after their deaths or on a future anniversary.

On the 10th anniversary of the disaster in 1989 another church in the Auckland region, St Matthew in the City, unveiled a series of memorial windows. These honoured those who had died and also commemorated the memorial service held at the church in the days immediately after the crash. Five years later, on the 15th anniversary, a garden of remembrance was created to surround the memorial at Waikumete Cemetery.

On the 25th anniversary of the crash in 2004 a number of services were held in the Auckland region. At 10 a.m. on 28 November approximately 100 people gathered at a memorial garden at Auckland airport, which had been created to commemorate the crew that died in the disaster. At midday approximately 1000 people attended a memorial service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, Auckland. Later that afternoon a wreathlaying service was held at the memorial at Waikumete Cemetery. Water collected from Mt Erebus had also been sent to churches throughout the country for local memorial services. Water collected from a stream on Aoraki Mt Cook was similarly sent for a service at the memorial cross in Antarctica.

On the 30th anniversary of the crash in 2009 there were services at the memorial garden at Auckland airport and the memorial at Waikumete Cemetery. There were also services at Air New Zealand's headquarters in Auckland and at the airline's main hangar at Christchurch International Airport. Shortly after the anniversary a memorial bench was unveiled at the Lower Hutt Rose Garden. It was the first memorial to Flight TE901 in the capital. Another service was held at the memorial garden at Auckland airport on the 35th anniversary of the crash in 2014.

A national memorial

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is leading a project to create a National Erebus Memorial in 2020. Plans for the Memorial were announced in 2017 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and the families of the Erebus victims have been a vital part of the process.

A site has been proposed for the Memorial at Dove-Myer Robinson Park / Taurarua Pā in Auckland, commonly known as the Parnell Rose Gardens.

A design process is underway for a concept design to be selected. Construction can then begin in late 2019 - in alignment with the 40th anniversary of the accident.

More information is available on the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website.

In Antarctica

A memorial service held at Scott Base on the first anniversary of the disaster in 1980 was attended by approximately 55 inhabitants of the base and guests from nearby McMurdo Station. It was also attended by Justice Mahon and others assisting in the Royal Commission of Inquiry who were visiting Antarctica at this time.

Commemorative albums

For the 20th anniversary messages from relatives of victims of the disaster and those closely involved in the recovery operation were combined into a commemorative album. A further volume was compiled for the 25th anniversary.

Similar services were held on the 20th, 25th and 30th anniversaries in 1999, 2004 and 2009. The 2004 service involved a number of distinguished guests, including the Dean of Christchurch, the Very Reverend Peter Beck, who led the service, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff, and Sir Edmund Hillary. During the half-hour service Hillary, who had lost his friend Peter Mulgrew in the disaster, read Bill Manhire's specially commissioned poem, ‘Erebus voices'.

The 2009 service was also led by the Very Reverend Peter Buck. It involved representatives from Air New Zealand and for the first time a small number of relatives of the victims of the Erebus disaster. The six relatives who attended the service had their names selected from a special ballot run by Air New Zealand. Many criticised the airline for allowing only a few relatives to go, arguing that they all had the right to make the trip. But the airline commented that it was not 'practically or logistically possible' to take a representative of each family. Christchurch businessman Mike Pero subsequently offered relatives places on a charter flight to Antarctica, with ticket prices ranging between $1400 and $8600. Amid criticism that he was being 'opportunistic', Pero withdrew his offer. Following the service the airline announced that it would work with the government to look at ways more relatives could make the trip.

Koru capsule

On the 30th anniversary relatives of the victims of the disaster were asked to send messages for a 26kg koru shaped capsule which would be placed at the base of the memorial cross in Antarctica.

A memorial cross near the crash site, erected in timber in 1979 and replaced by a sturdier stainless steel structure in 1987, has also been a site of remembrance on anniversaries of the disaster. On the first anniversary a party assisting in the Royal Commission of Inquiry flew to the site. While there, Edward Davies, Director of Administration and General Services for Air New Zealand, laid a wreath at the memorial cross. He also scattered the ashes of four passengers in accordance with the wishes of their relatives.

Tomb

The site itself was declared a ‘tomb' by signatories to the Antarctic Treaty in 1981, and in 1997 it was designated an Antarctic Specially Protected Area for an indefinite period.

In the days before the 20th anniversary a party from Scott Base flew to the site to lay two wreaths of silk flowers at its base. On the morning of the 25th anniversary, prior to the service at Scott Base, a party including Peter Beck and Phil Goff flew to the site to lay wreaths. Water collected from a stream on Aoraki Mt Cook, a gift from Ngai Tahu, was also sprinkled at the cross.

Weather prevented the six relatives of the victims of the disaster visiting Antarctica for 30th anniversary commemorations from reaching the crash site. A koru shaped capsule intended to be placed at the site on this occasion was eventually taken there in January 2010.

In February 2011, 104 family members of those lost in the Erebus disaster took part in a remembrance flight to Scott Base. A further 31 relatives took part in similar flight in 2014.

Further information

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