On the morning of 28 November 1979, Air New Zealand flight TE901 left Auckland for a sightseeing flight to Antarctica. At 12.49 p.m. (NZST) the aircraft crashed into Mt Erebus, killing all 257 passengers and crew.
Erebus remains the worst civil accident in New Zealand's history, and the scale of loss shocked the nation. The plane was lost from the fleet of the national carrier, Air New Zealand, which was in full state ownership at the time.
The New Zealand Government has undertaken to construct a national memorial acknowledging the loss to the families and the nation.
The whole country was in shock really. Everybody knew somebody – their favourite school teacher or somebody they'd worked with. It had such a ripple effect throughout New Zealand. Very few people were left untouched by it. Lizzie Oakes, who lost her grandmother Muriel Harrison in the accident
The memorial fulfils the need of the Erebus families to have the effects of the tragedy recognised. It also provides a place for them to remember their loved ones and for all people to gather, remember and reflect on the accident.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have provided valuable input and expressed support for the memorial throughout the planning process. Auckland Council is a key partner in the project.
Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage is leading the project.
The memorial site
The memorial will be located within Auckland’s Dove-Myer Robinson Park, overlooking Taurarua Judges Bay and the Waitematā Harbour.
Several options were considered before this site was identified as the most suitable location. Its central, accessible, park-like features reflect the preference of the Erebus families for a setting of that nature.
The area is of significant cultural and heritage value to mana whenua and the community.
The park is also home to some significant trees, including what is thought to be the largest pōhutukawa in Auckland. Preserving the cultural, heritage and environmental values of the site is central to the memorial design.
The memorial design
Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song was announced as the design for the National Erebus Memorial in April 2019 following a national design competition. It was designed by Studio Pacific Architecture in collaboration with artists Jason O’Hara and Warren Maxwell.
Te Paerangi Ataata reflects the enormity of the Erebus tragedy while also acknowledging the adventurous spirit of the crew and passengers.
Designed specifically for the site in Auckland’s Dove-Myer Robinson Park, Te Paerangi Ataata sits lightly on the landscape. Its location overlooking Waitematā Harbour allows for a strong visual connection to the ocean and the distant horizon.