Erebus memorials

Erebus memorials

The memorial cross on Mt Erebus stands approximately 3 km south-east of the crash site. The 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 held to commemorate those who died.

In New Zealand

As the first anniversary of the disaster neared, a memorial was erected in Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland, above the graves of those whose remains had not positively identified. Inscribed on it were the names of the 44 people who had either not been positively identified or whose bodies had not been recovered. A brass plaque commemorated all those who had died. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Morrie Davis and representatives of the deceased flight and cabin crew members were among those who laid wreaths at the dedication ceremony on 28 November 1980.

Other memorials dedicated on the first anniversary were prompted by the loss of community members. In Warkworth, a walkway was named after Beverley Price, a member of the Auckland walkway committee killed in the disaster. A stained-glass window commissioned to commemorate the death of eight local people, including the Reverend Peter Tanton, was unveiled in St Stephen's Anglican Church In Whangaparāoa, north of Auckland.

Memorial tree

In Kihikihi, just south of Te Awamutu, there is a memorial tree to Cecil and Jack Emmett, two members of the local community who died in the disaster. It is not known when this tree was planted.

On the 10th anniversary of the disaster in 1989 a series of memorial windows were unveiled in St Matthew-in-the-City, Auckland. These honoured those who had died and also commemorated the memorial service held in the church just after the crash. Five years later, on the 15th anniversary, a garden of remembrance was created around the memorial in 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 who died in the disaster. At midday some 1000 people attended a memorial service at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, Auckland. Later that afternoon a wreathlaying service was held at the memorial in Waikumete Cemetery. Water collected from Mt Erebus was used in memorial services around the country. Water collected from a stream on Aoraki Mt Cook was used in 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 in the Lower Hutt Rose Garden − the first memorial to Flight TE901 in the Wellington region. On the 35th anniversary of the crash in 2014, a service was held at the memorial garden at Auckland airport.

A national memorial

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is leading a project to create a National Erebus Memorial, plans for which were announced in 2017 by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The families of the Erebus victims have been a vital part of this 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, and in April 2019 Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song was announced as the winning design.

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 about 55 people stationed at the base and guests from nearby McMurdo Station. It was also attended by Justice Mahon and others assisting the Royal Commission of Inquiry who were visiting Antarctica at the time.

Commemorative albums

For the 20th anniversary, messages from relatives of victims and those involved in the recovery operation were collected in a commemorative album. A second volume was compiled for the 25th anniversary.

Similar services were held on the 20th, 25th and 30th anniversaries in 1999, 2004 and 2009 respectively. In 2004 the Dean of Christchurch, the Very Reverend Peter Beck, led the service, which was attended by 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 Beck. It involved representatives from Air New Zealand, and six relatives of victims whose names had been selected by ballot. Many criticised the airline for allowing only a few relatives to go, arguing that they all had the right to make the trip. The airline responded 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 of 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 in 2009, relatives of the victims of the disaster were asked to send messages for a 26 kg 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 the Royal Commission of Inquiry flew to the site.

Edward Davies, Director of Administration and General Services for Air New Zealand, laid a wreath at the memorial cross and scattered the ashes of four passengers in accordance with the wishes of their relatives.


The crash site 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 Ngāi Tahu, was sprinkled at the cross.

Bad 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 that was to have been placed at the site on this occasion was taken there in January 2010.

In February 2011, 104 family members of those lost in the Erebus disaster joined a remembrance flight to Scott Base. Another 31 relatives flew on a similar flight in 2014.

Part of: Remembering Erebus

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1 comment has been posted about Erebus memorials

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Risto Siasanis

Posted: 29 Nov 2022

Of the 44 lost members of the disaster how many do they think were perhaps incased in the heavy-weight fuselage that could not be moved. Has any of the plane's parts been recovered
or has it (and those bodies) been covered in snow and ice and in 200-foot crevasses to eventually keep getting buried further and then drift out to the Ross Sea.
Antartica has claimed many lives since the Robert F. Scott ill-fated search for the South Pole
when he and his party of four more men died in March 1912.
It is an unforgiving, cruel, extremely dangerous continent to even this day.