The accident

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 operated by the national carrier, Air New Zealand, which was in full state ownership at the time.


The New Zealand Government has committed to constructing a national memorial which acknowledges 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


Artist's impression of the National Erebus Memorial design, Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song. 

The Memorial

In 2017, the Government committed to creating a National Erebus Memorial, with Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage leading the project.


The memorial will fulfil the need of the Erebus families to have the effects of the tragedy recognised on a national scale. It will also provide a place for them to remember their loved ones and for all people to gather, remember and reflect on the accident.


Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song was announced as the Memorial design in 2019, to be built at Taurarua Dove-Myer Robinson Park in Auckland. 


After extreme weather events in January and February 2023, Taurarua Dove-Myer Robinson Park was deemed to no longer be a suitable site. Manatū Taonga announced in April 2023 that it will seek a new site for the National Erebus Memorial. The new site will need to be enduring, so present and future generations can visit the memorial, to grieve, reflect and celebrate those who lost their lives on 28 November 1979. 


The current preference is for the memorial to remain in Auckland, for these reasons:


  • The largest proportion of the New Zealanders who died in the tragedy were from Auckland
  • Many Erebus families continue to live in Auckland
  • The flight departed from the city
  • And because Auckland is a gateway for international visitors, having the memorial in Auckland provides easier access for families of the international passengers on the flight, should they wish to visit.


Manatū Taonga will continue to work with the families of Erebus victims and members of Operation Overdue, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Auckland Council to find a suitable site for the memorial. 


For up-to-date, accurate information please read through our FAQs


Erebus families and members of Operation Overdue


The Erebus families and members of Operation Overdue are at the absolute heart of this kaupapa. Manatū Taonga continues to work closely with these groups who have remained incredibly supportive and gracious through the long journey to establish a National Erebus Memorial. 


We regularly engage with over 450 people on our Erebus contact lists – 280 of these are Erebus families, and 176 are members of Operation Overdue. If you are an Erebus family or member of Operation Overdue and want to receive updates, email [email protected].


Project Partners


Manatū Taonga has worked closely with its project partners during each stage of the National Erebus Memorial establishment. 


We remain committed to all those with an interest in the Memorial, and we continue to work closely with Erebus families, the community around any potential site, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Auckland Council and other project partners.  


Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei


Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has been involved since the early planning stages for the memorial. The hapū has provided strong support for the families and are committed to seeing the Memorial built in Tāmaki Makaurau. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei continues to provide ongoing cultural guidance and support. 


In November 2022, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei invited Erebus families and members of Operation Overdue onto Ōrākei Marae in Auckland for a pōwhiri on the date of the 43rd anniversary of the disaster. At the pōwhiri, the names of all 257 passengers and crew who were lost on 28 November 1979 were read out.  Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has said this is an enduring invitation.  


Auckland Council


Auckland Council has been a key partner in the National Erebus Memorial. We remain committed to working with the Auckland Council, as we seek a new site for the memorial. 


Studio Pacific Architecture


The Ministry continues to work closely with Studio Pacific Architecture, who designed Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song. In seeking a new site for the memorial, we will reuse as many aspects and elements of the existing design as possible. 


Artist's impression of the National Erebus Memorial design, Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song. 

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.

The design of Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song reflects the enormity of the Erebus tragedy while also acknowledging the adventurous spirit of the crew and passengers.
Although Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song was designed to fit with the former proposed memorial site at Auckland’s Taurarua Dove-Myer Robinson Park, the intention is to reuse as many design aspects and elements possible in a new site. 


Find out more about the memorial design


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