Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song

Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song reflects the enormity of the tragedy and provides a strong sense of connection and loss.

Witnessing the disruptions to people’s lives from such traumatic loss and grief has shaped me for ever. It’s healing to watch the Erebus Memorial project finally take shape.

Virginia Brooks, daughter of Flight Engineer Gordon Brooks

As visitors journey through the memorial, they’re able to engage with all aspects of the tragedy, as the story of what happened on that day unfolds.

National Erebus Memorial snowflake

Along with sadness and loss, the memorial also evokes the sense of adventure the crew and passengers are almost sure to have enjoyed as they boarded the flight.

Carefully designed to be a welcoming place for everyone, the memorial’s compelling narrative engages visitors and provides a sanctuary within its walls. On the Ice Wall, visitors are able to touch the names of the 257 people who died in the accident, etched into the white concrete.  

Alongside the names are lines from the poem Erebus Voices, composed by New Zealand poet Bill Manhire for the 25th anniversary of the accident in 2004 and read at the commemoration in Antarctica by Sir Edmund Hillary.

The opposite stainless steel Snowflake Wall displays 257 snowflake-shaped holes, unique to each person on the flight. Each snowflake has been digitally ‘grown’ using an algorithm that uses the name of each of those who lost their lives as a ‘seed’.

Replicas of the snowflakes will be given to the families, connecting them to the site and providing them with a keepsake that can be passed on to others.

The snowflake patterns stamped into the memorial will help bring a little piece of Antarctica to us.

Virginia Brooks

The white concrete and mirrored stainless steel materials of the memorial evoke the stark beauty of Antarctica. Adding to this, visitors within certain areas at the base of the memorial will hear ancient murmurings and sounds of Antarctica from speakers cast within the concrete.

For the visitor, the journey culminates in a view out into the open horizon.

In sum, the memorial subtly and powerfully calls on us to remember those who died in this national tragedy.

Selecting the design

Once Support in Principle to locate the memorial in Dove-Myer Robinson Park was provided by the Waitematā Local Board, a national design competition was held to select the memorial concept based on the proposed site.

Te Paerangi Ataata was chosen from six shortlisted options by an expert panel which included an architect, a landscape architect, an artist and an urban planner, as well as two representatives from the Erebus families.

Prior to it being confirmed, the preferred design was reviewed by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and the Auckland Urban Design Panel, as well as the Waitematā Local Board, who were satisfied that it met all the criteria.

Find out more about the other five finalist designs

Additional resources:

Image: National Erebus Memorial site plan, September 2019. Click here to see detailed plan (PDF, 2MB)

Diagram showing the memorial from above

Image: Artist's impression of the the National Erebus Memorial, Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song from above

Diagram showing the memorial from below

Image: Artist's impression of the National Erebus Memorial,Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song from lower path

 


Updated on 25th May 2021