28 Nov 2017

Erebus tragedy: Calls for national memorial

12:22 pm on 28 November 2017

The government wants to create a national memorial to pay tribute to the people killed in the Erebus tragedy.

Today marks 38 years since an Air New Zealand plane crashed into the slopes of Mount Erebus in Antarctica killing all 257 people on board.

There are some memorials like the one at Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery and the cross above Scott Base but neither have all of the names of the victims.

This wooden cross to the victims of the Erebus disaster was erected above Scott Base by recovery workers. On 30 January 1987 a stainless steel cross replaced this original one, which had eroded.

This wooden cross to the victims of the Erebus disaster was erected above Scott Base by recovery workers. On 30 January 1987 a stainless steel cross replaced this original one, which had eroded. Photo: nzhistory.govt.nz

The families have been calling for a national memorial to be erected in time for the disaster's 40th anniversary in 2019.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hoped that was possible.

"My priority is meeting with the families to discuss that one on one, to talk about what their hopes and expectations are. But in my view this has been a long time coming and it is something this government will pursue."

erebus

erebus Photo: AFP

Ms Ardern would also meet with Air New Zealand to discuss more details, but she hoped the memorial would be on New Zealand soil so it would be accessible to the families.

"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."

As well as remembering the victims and families today, Ms Ardern said she was also mindful of all of the people involved in the 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," she said.

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