Mt Erebus disaster memorial plea to political parties

  • 01/09/2017
The plane crash was the worst New Zealand aviation disaster to date.
The plane crash was the worst New Zealand aviation disaster to date. Photo credit: File

A group representing the families of people who died in the Mt Erebus disaster is calling on all the political parties to move the project forward.

A voluntary advisory group has been campaigning for 18 months to have a national memorial built to remember the 257 people who died when an Air New Zealand DC-10 crashed into the Antarctic mountain on November 28, 1979.

The 40th anniversary in 2019 will be a suitable time for one to be opened, says the group's spokesman, aviation historian and chaplain Richard Waugh.

The national memorial for New Zealand's worst civil disaster has been too long coming, compared to the responsiveness from central and local government towards the victims of the Canterbury earthquake and Pike River disaster, he said.

"It is a matter of deep regret that the government has dragged its feet in responding to the pleas of the thousands of people who remain affected by the Mt Erebus accident," he said.

"The families are quite reasonably asking for a special place where all 257 names can be together and where people can gather for reflection, prayer and remembering."

Erebus families' representative David Allan, whose parents and teenage sister died in the disaster, says the "excuses and procrastination" has been frustrating.

"We have been ignored, resulting in a lack of any tangible progress over much of this year," he said.

"It is embarrassing for the Erebus families and the procrastination can only be described as appalling."

Mr Allan said all the political parties should publicly comment whether they support a memorial or not.

On the 37th anniversary of the disaster last year, then-prime minister John Key said he was in favour of one.

"I think it is an idea with some merit," Mr Key said.

A cross and koru-shaped capsule are at Antarctica, near the crash site.

No location has been decided for any memorial in New Zealand by the advisory group.

NZN