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Erebus Memorial will not harm pōhutukawa - but further delays prolong hurt for victims’ families

Media release: 20 October 2021

The magnificent pōhutukawa tree near the National Erebus Memorial site is outside the construction zone and will not be harmed, says Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive, Bernadette Cavanagh.

"I am troubled and saddened by claims that construction of the National Erebus Memorial at Dove-Myer Robinson Park will harm the pōhutukawa tree in any way. This incorrect information threatens to cause further unnecessary and harmful delays to this project.

"I invite anyone concerned about the pōhutukawa, to read the Arboricultural Assessment report by an independent arborist and reviewed by a range of similarly qualified experts. They have all concluded the memorial poses no risk to the tree.

"Everyone agrees this pōhutukawa is a magnificent tree and great care has been taken to ensure its health and longevity will be unaffected by the memorial.

"The significance of the tree is recognised in the memorial plans. The tree will be outside the memorial construction area and will remain untouched during construction. All works carried out anywhere near the pōhutukawa will be done by hand and under the supervision of a qualified arborist.

"After listening to concerns about how the pōhutukawa might be affected by building the memorial we have decided to take the extra step of reducing the length of the white 'ice wall' by about one metre, to completely avoid the protected root zone of the pōhutukawa.

"So, let me say again the tree will not be harmed.

"In terms of tikanga, we have been guided by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, whose rohe the tree lies within, and they have said many times that the hapū is confident the tree will remain safe.

"While the project has been delayed in recent months, to allow time for concerns to be aired and addressed, we have continued to keep in touch with Erebus whānau, many of whom are dismayed and frustrated by what has been happening. We draw strength from their resilience and support during this long process and thank them for their patience.

"A significant amount of consultation with the local community and stakeholders has occurred during the past several years. It’s time for the memorial to proceed.

"In late 2017, Government made a commitment to the families of those who lost their lives in the Erebus tragedy that they would finally have a national memorial - where they can commemorate their loved ones, and where all New Zealanders can understand and acknowledge this significant moment in our nation’s history.

"Construction of the National Erebus Memorial will not harm the cherished pōhutukawa tree, but further delays will cause prolonged and unnecessary harm to the Erebus whānau who have already waited so long. We cannot let that happen," says Bernadette Cavanagh.

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage is committed to providing factual, open and transparent information on this project.

Keep up to date on project updates on our website:

See how the memorial will appear in the park:

Read about how the pōhutukawa has been carefully considered in the memorial's design:

Listen to the interview with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei deputy chair Ngarimu Blair clarifying the hapū's position on the notable pōhutukawa:

Our team is always happy to answer any questions, email us on: [email protected]

Published on 20th October 2021