Location of Auckland Erebus memorial site revealed

The proposed Auckland memorial to recognise victims of the 1979 Erebus crash has been given site approval by the Waitematā Local Board. 

The memorial site is on a lawn area overlooking Judges Bay at Auckland's Dove-Myer Robinson Park/Taurarua Pā, commonly known as the Parnell Rose Gardens. 

It was hoped the memorial could be finished by November 2019, in time for the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Air New Zealand plane crash on the slopes of Antarctica's Mt Erebus. But the Government delayed it, saying in July it won't be finished until 2020.  

The families were told by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage that the Erebus National Memorial in Auckland would not be ready for the anniversary of the accident because of the scale and complexity of the project. 

Sarah Myles, the granddaughter of a passenger, told Newshub at the time the main point of the memorial was for families "to finally be able to come together as one at the 40th anniversary as many families have not made it to this point". 

It has been said that next year's anniversary will be the last major anniversary that many ageing Erebus victim relatives will be able to attend, hence its importance. 

The national memorial was first proposed in early 2016. The project has since been granted $3 million in funding by the Government, which will honour the 257 passengers and crew who were aboard the flight. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last year she hoped come 2019 that there would be a "suitable memorial that honours those who died, a place where all New Zealanders can come to pay their respects..." 

"I agree with the families that we should look to have a national memorial in place by the 40th anniversary in two years' time," she said, but plans to have the memorial erected by 2019 have clearly fizzled away. 

Nevertheless, the memorial is going ahead, with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage saying on Wednesday it will provide funding to cover all costs relating to the installation and future maintenance of the structure and associated landscape features. 

A design process is currently underway, with the Expressions of Interest submission period closing this week on Sunday. The next steps will be for the Expressions of Interest submissions to be assessed and shortlisted. 

"The Waitematā Local Board is really honoured to host such a significant historically important memorial in one of our outstanding local parks," says Waitematā Local Board Chair Pippa Coom.

"We are confident that a rigorous design process led by the Ministry, including a review by the Auckland Urban Design Panel, will ensure that the final design speaks to the heritage and cultural values of the site."

The Erebus crash was the deadliest in the history of New Zealand. The Air New Zealand flight left Auckland Airport in the morning of November 28, 1979, to spend a few hours flying over the Antarctic continent, but crashed into Mt Erebus. 

An initial investigation into the crash concluded the pilot was to blame, but public outcry led to a Royal Commission of Inquiry, which found that the accident was caused by a correction made to the coordinates of the flight path the night of the crash.