Frequently Asked Questions

Background

Site selection and design

Resource consent, and protection of the trees and the heritage

Protecting the notable pōhutukawa tree nearby

Costs

Construction


Background

Why is the government building a national memorial to the Erebus accident?

Erebus remains one of New Zealand’s worst accidents, 257 people lost their lives when flight TE 901 crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica. The National Erebus Memorial will acknowledge the loss to their families and the nation.

The aircraft involved in the Erebus accident was from the fleet of the national carrier Air New Zealand, which was in full state ownership at that time.

Where is the memorial being built?

The memorial will be built on a lawn in the north eastern corner of Dove Myer-Robinson Park, overlooking the Waitematā Harbour.

Why is the memorial in Auckland?

The flight at the centre of the Erebus accident left from Auckland on the morning of 28 November 1979. Those onboard came from across New Zealand and around the world, but the majority of New Zealanders were from the wider Auckland region. Many of the victims’ families live in Auckland.


Site selection and design

What process was followed in selecting the site for the National Erebus Memorial?

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage began working with Auckland Council in mid-2018 to identify a site that would be appropriate for the National Erebus Memorial. Feedback from the Erebus families showed a clear preference for a peaceful park-like setting.

Dove-Myer Robinson Park in the Auckland suburb of Parnell was announced as the proposed site for the National Erebus Memorial in November 2018. Several sites were looked at before Dove-Myer Robinson Park was selected as the best fit – central, accessible, park-like. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei gave their support for the memorial to be built on the site. In November 2018, Waitematā Local Board gave their support in principle as the landowner, subject to a series of criteria being met, and granted final landowner approval in November 2020.

What criteria was the memorial design required to meet?

Waitematā Local Board required that the memorial:

  • blend with, and be sympathetic to, the natural environment
  • protect view shafts
  • maintain open space values
  • allow multiple uses of the area
  • be consistent with the heritage and mana whenua values of the park
  • accommodate current use types / patterns
  • increase the use levels of this area of the park
  • provide additional amenity value.

What was the process for selecting the design Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song?

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage ran a national design competition to select the memorial concept, based on the site at Dove-Myer Robinson Park. The winning design, Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song 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 shared with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and the Auckland Urban Design Panel, as well as the Waitematā Local Board who were satisfied that it met all the required criteria.

The winning design was announced in April 2019.

How big will the memorial be?

The National Erebus Memorial has a footprint of approximately 95 square metres. View a detailed plan of the site.

Will the selected memorial design be fully accessible?

The National Erebus Memorial is designed to be fully accessible to all who wish to visit it.


Resource consent, and protection of the trees and the heritage

Does the memorial have resource consent?

Resource consent for the National Erebus Memorial was granted by Auckland Council on 18 March 2020. The decision was made by Independent Commissioner Ian Munro.

Why was the resource consent application not notified?

Under the Resource Management Act, decisions about whether a resource consent application needs to be publicly notified are made by the relevant local authority. In the case of the National Erebus Memorial, Auckland Council referred the application to an independent commissioner.

The Commissioner reviewed the Ministry’s application, considered the views of interested local residents and decided that it could proceed on a non-notified basis because he was satisfied that no one would be adversely affected, and there would be no more than a minor impact on the park itself.

What consents have been obtained? 

In addition to the Archaeological Authority, Resource Consent was granted in March 2020. The final step was for the Waitematā Local Board to grant landowner approval, and that occurred in November 2020.

Dove-Myer Robinson Park falls within local hapū Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s rohe. Manatū Taonga began conversations with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei in October 2018. Wider iwi and hapū consultation was completed in July and August 2019.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei have provided valuable support and input since the early planning stages of the memorial. The hapū has reviewed the archaeological assessment material throughout the process and, as required by the resource consent, endorsed the Archaeological Management Plan as part of a wider Cultural Monitoring Plan. The hapū supports the planned approach to respect and protect the heritage values of the site, including the procedures in place should any kōiwi, taonga or Māori artefacts be found.

A wider group of iwi and hapū were also given the opportunity to provide feedback on a preliminary archaeological report and design documentation for the memorial, prepared as part of the resource consent application.

How will the site's heritage be protected?

Archaeological Authority for the memorial was granted by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in September 2020. This followed a thorough archaeological assessment of the site to investigate whether anything of archaeological significance would be compromised by locating the memorial in this area of the park.

Several changes were made to the memorial design as a result, and the final design both protects and respects the archaeological and heritage values of the site.

An archaeologist will be on site during construction to monitor all earthworks and ensure any archaeological evidence encountered is correctly investigated, recorded, and analysed. Procedures are also in place should any kōiwi (human remains), taonga or Māori artefacts be found.

You can find out more about how the heritage of the site will be protected here.

You can read the letter and authority from Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga here, and the final archaeological assessment is available here.

Will any of the heritage trees at Dove-Myer Robinson Park be affected?

No. The National Erebus Memorial poses no risk to the heritage trees in its vicinity at Dove-Myer Robinson Park. The trees have been of paramount consideration throughout the design process.

Detailed plans are in place to ensure the health, longevity and ongoing protection of the notable pōhutukawa close to the memorial site.

An Arboricultural Assessment has been undertaken by an independent and qualified arborist and reviewed by a range of similarly qualified arboricultural experts. All conclude that the memorial poses no risk to the tree.

An independent qualified arborist will be on site to supervise all earthworks in the vicinity of the tree to ensure it is protected. Regular consultation will take place with the Auckland Council heritage arborist and the Tree Asset Owner during this process.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has reviewed the Archaelogical Management Plan and confirmed they are comfortable that the proposed approach to works in the vicinity of the notable pōhutukawa is sensitive and culturally sound.

You can find out more about how the tree will be protected here.


Protecting the notable pōhutukawa tree nearby

Will the notable pōhutukawa tree be cut down or harmed in any way?  

No. The tree will be outside the construction fence and will remain untouched during construction.  

Everyone agrees that the 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. All works are designed to avoid its root system, and it certainly won’t be cut down.   

The works to establish the memorial have been designed to avoid the root system of the pōhutukawa, and it is very likely no roots will be encountered. All works that are carried out near the root zone of the pōhutukawa will be done by hand and under the supervision of a qualified arborist.

What considerations have gone into ensuring the notable pōhutukawa will be protected throughout memorial construction? 

The National Erebus Memorial has been designed specifically for the site. The notable pōhutukawa, and other heritage trees in the surrounding area, are integral to the design and will remain completely protected. 

An Arboricultural Assessment report was produced by an independent, qualified arborist and reviewed by a range of similarly qualified arboricultural experts. All concluded that the memorial poses no risk to the tree.  

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has reviewed the Archaeological Management Plan and confirmed they are comfortable that the proposed approach to works in the vicinity of the notable pōhutukawa is sensitive and culturally sound. The hapū has said many times that they are confident that the tree won’t be damaged by construction.  

An independent qualified arborist will be on site to supervise all earthworks in the vicinity of the tree to ensure it is protected.  

Key facts: 

  • The tree will be outside the construction fence and will remain untouched during construction. 
  • All works relating to the pōhutukawa, including any soil removal or excavation, will be done by hand  under the supervision of a qualified arborist. Regular consultation will take place with the Auckland Council heritage arborist and the Tree Asset Owner during this process. 
  • The tree will not be pruned for construction purposes. 
  • All construction works have been specifically designed to avoid the root system of the pōhutukawa, and it is very likely no roots will be encountered. 

How will the memorial affect the tree’s future growth?  

The independent arborist has confirmed the memorial structure does not present any additional risk to the pōhutukawa. They have advised that the pōhutukawa has expanded equally in all directions for the majority of its life to date, having had no competition from neighbouring trees. 

In the arborist’s opinion, the tree will continue to grow unimpeded in all remaining directions (if it wishes to do so). The tree can continue to grow towards the north in northern and north-western directions, and to the south, east and west.  

Only a small amount of pruning, of the sort that already takes place to keep the paths clear for pedestrians and to maintain access to the nearby Dutch War Memorial, will be required as part of the tree’s regular maintenance. 

In addition, a detailed tree protection methodology has been prepared that will be implemented and supervised by qualified arborists. This has been accepted by Auckland Council as the Tree Asset Owner and is in accordance with best arboricultural practice. 

There is no evidence to suggest the memorial will affect the tree’s future growth or lead to any decline in the tree. 

Any claims that the placement of the memorial will impede the future growth of the tree are unsubstantiated. 


Costs

Who is paying for the memorial?

The costs associated with the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of the memorial sit with Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

How much will the memorial cost?

Due to construction delays, the total forecast expenditure for the development of the National Erebus Memorial is currently under review. The previous estimated figure was $5.210 million (GST exclusive) and included all design, consultancy, construction costs.   

How much money has the Ministry spent on the development of the National Erebus Memorial to date?

As at 30 April 2022, the total capital expenditure on the National Erebus Memorial is $808,000. This includes the costs of some materials. Other costs incurred since inception of the project are $1,552,287. Total expenditure on the project is $2,360,287 (all costs are GST exclusive). The total capital spend for the memorial has reduced as some costs associated with the construction delay have been reclassified and included in other project costs. 


Construction

When is the memorial expected to be complete?

Once construction begins, the memorial will take approximately eight months to complete. 

During what hours will construction take place? 

Construction will take place between 7am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Who is the main contractor?

Naylor Love are the main contractors, with project management provided by The Building Intelligence Group.

Who is responsible for health and safety at the site?

The site will comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act. Naylor Love will be the lead and are obligated to ensure that work is carried out under the site-specific safety plan. CCTV has been installed at the site for health and safety reasons (view the onsite signage) and is operating under the Ministry's CCTV Systems Policy. If you have any concerns or queries about Health and Safety please email [email protected] or phone (04) 499 4229.

How will people’s access to the park be affected?

The construction site area is shown on the above map. In order to provide easy access for construction and ensure public safety, the construction site area will be securely fenced. 

Will there be any traffic interruptions on nearby streets or roads?

There will not be any full road closures, but the driveway will be impacted at times by access for large vehicles from Judges Bay Road.

What will the site fencing be made of and how high will it be?

A fixed, weighted 1.8m mesh transparent fence will be installed.

Will people be able to see the project taking shape?

Yes. Visitors will be able to see through the fence to view the construction site and how the project is progressing. However, some parts of the site may be scaffolded or shrink-wrapped so that works can take place in adverse weather.

I’ve heard the Office of the Ombudsman is investigating this project. Why is that? 

We support people’s right to engage the Ombudsman to ensure government remains transparent and accountable. This is a standard process for public sector organisations, and we are working with the Office of the Ombudsman on this matter.   

The inquiry investigates a complaint that inadequate consultation has taken place and concerns regarding the notable pōhutukawa tree at the site.  

We remain confident in the inegrity of the process followed to select the National Erebus Memorial site and design, and that the environmental, cultural and heritage values of the park will be properly respected and protected.   

Securing all the necessary consents from independent and/or elected representatives demonstrates the integrity and thoroughness of the process over the past three years.    

How is the Ministry supporting the Ombudsman’s inquiry?  

Manatū Taonga fully supports the Ombudsman in this inquiry. In respect for the Ombudsman and the role his office plays, we have decided to undertake a phased approach beginning with preparation works, which can be reversed if necessary.  

This approach ensures that the Ministry can either halt or reverse works if necessary. At the same time, taking the important first step of site preparation ensures further delays are kept to the absolute minimum.  

Will the Ministry delay construction while the Office of the Ombudsman undertakes its inquiry?  

While we remain confident in the process followed, we have agreed to an approach that allows us to begin site preparation, which is reversible and is a natural first step in the construction process, while the Ombudsman’s Office undertakes its review as quickly as possible.   

This balanced approach reflects the fact that Manatū Taonga respects the significance of the office of the Ombudsman’s role in the democratic process. It means the office can undertake this review as quickly and thoroughly as possible, and that the findings will be given due acknowledgement by ensuring the Ministry can either halt or reverse works if necessary.  

At the same time, taking the important first step of site preparation ensures further delays are kept to the absolute minimum and maintains momentum of the memorial for the families, and the many others looking forward to this memorial being built.  

I live near the memorial site. How can I keep up to date?

Regular updates on the memorial development project will be posted here.

If you would like to be added to the project email list, please contact us at: [email protected]

If you have any questions, you can also contact us at: [email protected]

Who should I contact if I have any questions about the construction of the memorial?

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Please email [email protected] or phone (04) 499 4229.

I have a friend or a relative who died in the Erebus accident. How can I be involved?

Family members have been involved at various points throughout the design process for the National Erebus Memorial. As the planning for the memorial progresses, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage would like to hear from anyone with a connection to the Erebus accident. If you would like to be kept informed on the project Email: [email protected] 


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Updated on 22nd June 2022