Ministry of Culture and Heritage Agreement with the Erebus National Memorial Group

8 August 2018

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is proud to be leading the creation of the National Erebus Memorial, on behalf of the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern.

The Ministry warmly acknowledges the important role that the Erebus National Memorial group has played towards the creation of a memorial over the years. Its leadership has worked hard to publicise the need for a memorial, has kept the idea in the public and political realms, and has eloquently advocated on behalf of Erebus families. Its list of supporters includes many family members, and its sharing of those family members’ contact details (with their permission) was a crucial element in the Ministry’s establishment of its own database.

The willingness of the Erebus National Memorial leadership to support the Ministry as it undertakes the Memorial project is very much appreciated.

The Ministry intends to communicate regularly with the group’s leadership for the duration of the project, both in recognition of its significant work to date, and because it has expertise that could potentially be made available to the project as it continues.

In particular, the Ministry will:

  • Meet with the Erebus National Memorial leadership when officials are in Auckland, for face to face conversations exploring issues of mutual interest, where this is convenient for both parties.
  • Seek the input of the leadership group, as an entity, to decisions in relation to the design and build of the Memorial that it considers would be usefully informed by its perspective - for instance, in relation to the most important features of the Memorial (and to that end the Ministry has recently sought the group’s response to the survey sent to family members).
  • Seek individual feedback from members of the Erebus National Memorial leadership, where particular members have specific expertise.
  • Seek the input of the leadership group on matters relating to the events for the families that will take place at the Memorial site.

The Ministry and the leadership of the Erebus National Memorial group have a shared commitment to the creation of an appropriate Memorial that honours those who died on the slopes of Mt Erebus, and recognises the effect of that accident on the victims’ families, the recovery teams, and all New Zealand.

The Ministry welcomes communication from family members and others interested in the creation of the National Erebus Memorial. Please email erebus@mch.govt.nz; or phone Sarah Ingram on 027 655 1132.

Link to Letter

Letter from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage

Hello everyone

Thank you for your ongoing interest in the creation of a National Erebus Memorial. I am writing to give you an update on the project. 

Within the next three weeks you will be emailed a survey form from Colmar Brunton, seeking your input on aspects of the Memorial. Please let us know immediately if you don’t want us to release your email address to Colmar Brunton for this purpose – the company will of course treat the information in absolute confidence.

We very much look forward to receiving the results of the survey, and using them to inform the decisions around site selection and the design brief.  We are making preliminary inquiries regarding available sites, and will let you know of developments as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we’ve also contracted external memorial project management specialists The Building Intelligence Group (the people we worked with on the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial) to provide assistance with planning and executing some of the memorial development work.  We’re really pleased to have TBIG’s assistance at this point.  

One piece of very direct advice we received from TBIG was around the timeframe for creating the Memorial.  TBIG considers that aiming to get the Memorial finished by November 2019 is too ambitious, given the need for meaningful consultation and high quality governance, site evaluation, design development (including a competition), consenting, and building. We have carefully analysed each stage of the process, and agree with that assessment. 

You will know, of course, that the Prime Minister is committed to seeing the Memorial in place as soon as possible; she had thought dedicating it on the 40th anniversary of the accident would be very appropriate. But her response to our advice that this would be difficult to achieve without compromising the outcome was that it is absolutely essential that we get this right.  

As a result we now expect to dedicate the Memorial in the first half of 2020, and will be looking to mark the 40th anniversary in some other, special, way connected with the creation of the Memorial.

We do recognise that this will be disappointing to some of you, but hope that you will understand that it is done with the intention of preserving the integrity of the project.  

At time of writing, advice from the Prime Minister’s office confirms her intent to meet with family representatives as soon as she can.  We’ll get back to you with a likely date.  

If you have any questions in the meantime please feel free to get in contact via email at erebus@mch.govt.nz, or by ringing Principal Adviser Sarah Ingram on 027 6551132.

 

With best wishes

Paul James Chief Executive
Manatū Taonga - Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Promoting a confident and connected culture
Public Trust Building, Cnr of Lambton Quay and Stout Street, Wellington
P O Box 5364, Wellington, New Zealand
Mob +64 27 655 1132 Fax +64 4 499 4490

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.”

 

Link https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/pm-meet-families-over-erebus-national-memorial

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: rjw@ecw.org.nz  (available for interviews and can supply further information)