Erebus memorial: Hundreds expected to remember the 257 lives lost

Hundreds are expected to gather at Trinity Anglican Cathedral in Auckland's Parnell on Sunday to remember the lives lost in the Erebus tragedy.

It will mark Thursday's 40th anniversary of the disaster, in which 257 people lost their lives.

National memorial spokesperson Richard Waugh says it will be a big occasion.

"It's a very special time for the families to gather, and our very special guest will be the Governor-General, Patsy Reddy."

The event starts at 5pm, and is open to the public.

"I think we're getting better at remembering and caring and respecting the Erebus families," said Waugh. "They didn't really receive the care and respect they deserved all those years ago."

He says events such as the Christchurch earthquakes are setting the example.

Waugh also says Auckland's Parnell Rose Gardens is the ideal location for the controversial new national memorial to the victims.

Some locals have tried to stop the memorial being built, telling RNZ it would make them sad at a place they want to drink wine and climb trees.

Waugh says it's unclear why people think this way.

"The Erebus families have always said they've wanted something that's accessible, they want a very elegant design - which the winning design is."