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.”