PM to meet families over Erebus National Memorial

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has paid tribute to the victims of the Erebus tragedy on the 38th anniversary of the disaster and says she will meet with families to progress a long overdue national memorial. 

The Air New Zealand DC-10 crashed into the slopes of Mt Erebus in Antarctica on 28 November 1979, and all 257 people on board the sightseeing flight were killed.

Ms Ardern says the tragedy is the worst in New Zealand’s aviation history. It affected all New Zealanders and a national memorial is appropriate and overdue.

“This is a tragedy that touched every corner of New Zealand and understandably remains raw for the families and friends of the crew and passengers who died that day. It was a moment in our history when all New Zealanders paused.

“I agree with the families that we should look to have a national memorial in place by the 40th anniversary in two years’ time. I will sit down with them and Air New Zealand and talk about how we do that.

“I know families and others have been seeking a national memorial for some years and it’s high time we as a nation formally recognised this tragic event. I believe it is the appropriate thing to do.

“I have already received some advice from officials and I’m committed to making progress as soon as possible. We have waited too long already.”

As well as remembering the victims and families today, Ms Ardern says she is also mindful of all of those involved in the significant recovery operation and subsequent investigations.

“There were extraordinary efforts by police and so many others, particularly at the site of the crash, and I know that many difficult memories remain with those people today.

“I hope come 2019 we will have in place a suitable memorial that honours those who died, a place where all New Zealanders can come to pay their respects and remember this sad event.”



Comment about proposed Mt. Erebus National Memorial after recent Christchurch Earthquake National Memorial Unveiling

Advocates for a national memorial for the 257 people who lost their lives in the 1979 Mt. Erebus air accident warmly commend the organisation and work for the recently unveiled Christchurch Earthquake National Memorial. They suggest it is an excellent example of what can be done with hard work, creativity, national and local Government endorsement, and wide public support, and look forward to similar support for the planning of the Mt. Erebus air accident national memorial for the 40th anniversary on 28th November 2019.

Erebus National Memorial spokesperson, Rev Dr Richard Waugh says, “The Christchurch earthquake memorial is an attractive design, accessible, not in a cemetery, and a special place to display all the names of the earthquake victims. I have had many Erebus families contact me saying, “Did you see the Christchurch memorial. That’s what we can do to have all names together, in such a special way.”

There is presently no public memorial to the Erebus accident where all 257 names are displayed together. The Mt Erebus air accident with 257 fatalities - 237 passengers and 20 crew - is still New Zealand’s worst civil disaster and the worst aviation accident in the Southern Hemisphere.

Advocacy and planning has been underway since last year for a national memorial for the Mt. Erebus air accident. At present significant discussions are being held with Government through the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, and communication with other people and interested organisations.

Dr Waugh says, “New Zealand as a nation continues to be profoundly affected by the Mt. Erebus tragedy and it is a pastoral and public oversight that nothing has yet been done to establish a national memorial to the Mt. Erebus accident victims, especially for the many families involved. There is such relevance and power in having all the names appropriately displayed and honoured. We see that at memorials on ANZAC Day and we saw it yesterday in Christchurch. The Erebus families need and deserve a significant place where they, and the public, can gather for special remembering.”

Spokesperson: Rev. Dr Richard Waugh QSM:  Ph 022 5339400Email:  (available for interviews and can supply further information)