Frequently Asked Questions




Decision to seek a new site


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 TE901 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 operated by the national carrier Air New Zealand, which was in full state ownership at that time.

Where is the memorial being built?

Manatū Taonga is currently seeking a new site for the National Erebus Memorial. The preference is for the memorial to be built in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The memorial will be an enduring place where present and future generations can visit to grieve, reflect and celebrate those who lost their lives on 28 November 1979.

Taurarua Dove-Myer Robinson Park in Auckland was originally selected as the site for the memorial, however extreme weather events in January and February 2023 mean that the site is no longer suitable.

Why will the memorial be 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. 

Auckland is also a gateway for international visitors, providing easier access for families of the international passengers on the flight, should they wish to visit.


What is the design for the memorial?

The memorial design, named Te Pareangi Atata – Sky Song, is by Studio Pacific Architecture in collaboration with artists Jason O’Hara and Warren Maxwell. 

What will happen to the design in the new site?

Te Pareangi Atata – Sky Song was designed specifically for Dove-Myer Robinson Park, but in selecting a new site we will reuse as many aspects and elements of the original design as possible.  

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

Manatū Taonga 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.

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.


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?

The capital budget for the memorial is $4.621 million, of which $817,826 has been spent. The budget will be reviewed when a new site is selected for the memorial.

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

As at 30 June 2023, the total capital expenditure on the National Erebus Memorial is $817,826. This includes the costs of some materials. Other costs incurred since inception of the project are $2,064,748. Total expenditure on the project is $2,882,574 (all costs are GST exclusive). A breakdown of the total spend by cost type is as follows:

Cost type spend as at 30 June 2023:

Expense Sub-total Total
Materials   211,507
Consultants   791,219
- Design consultants 677,218  
- Technical consultants 78,477  
- Other consultants 35,524  
Contractors   373,788
Consents   23,730
Security/Main contractor/Project management   1,133,858
Operating costs   348,472
Total   2,882,574


Decision to seek a new site

What process was followed to select the Dove-Myer Robinson Park 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.

Taurarua 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 as a central, accessible, park setting. 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.

Resource consent for the National Erebus Memorial at Dove-Myer Robinson Park was granted by Auckland Council in March 2020. Archaeological Authority for the memorial was granted by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in September 2020.

Manatū Taonga also commissioned an Arboricultural Assessment by an independent and qualified arborist and reviewed by a range of similarly qualified arboricultural experts. All concluded that the memorial posed no risk to the notable pōhutukawa tree near the site. 

Why is the memorial no longer to be built at Dove-Myer Robinson Park?

The extreme and unprecedented storm events in the North Island in January and February 2023 led to several significant slips occurring along the cliff line at the memorial site in Dove-Myer Robinson Park. 

In light of the damage, Manatū Taonga commissioned updated geotechnical advice to ensure the memorial design is appropriate both now, and in the future. 

Based on the information provided in this report, the Ministry made the difficult decision that the Dove-Myer Robinson Park site is no longer suitable and that we will seek a new site for the National Erebus Memorial.  

What is the current status of the National Erebus Memorial?
Manatū Taonga and the New Zealand Government are fully committed to building a National Erebus Memorial. 

We are currently working to secure a new permanent home for the memorial. We are working closely with Auckland Council and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and our other project partners. 

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has reaffirmed its ongoing support for the families and outlined their commitment to seeing the Memorial built in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. 

When is the memorial expected to be complete?

We do not have an updated timeframe for the construction of the memorial as we are currently seeking a new site for the National Erebus Memorial. An updated timeframe for the National Erebus Memorial will be provided as soon as possible. 

Where will the memorial be built? Have you got an alternative site? 

We are currently working through the options for the new memorial site. At this stage, the preference is for the memorial to remain in Auckland. 

We’re grateful for the ongoing support of our project partners, especially Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, who have expressed their full support for the families and to see the memorial realised and to help us and the families secure a new site. 

What will the process be to find a new site?

We are currently working through what the process will be to secure a new site for the National Erebus Memorial. We remain committed to all those with an interest in the Memorial, including Erebus families, the community, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and other project partners, to identify an appropriate new site. 

When will updates be available on the selection of the new site?

Our priority is to keep Erebus families up to date, and we will be sharing information about the process with them first. We have committed to providing Erebus families and members of Operation Overdue with a monthly update. Any major updates will be communicated to the public once they have been confirmed. 

What showed the site was suitable in the first place?

ENGEO New Zealand prepared a geotechnical investigation report in October 2019. This report concluded the site was a suitable one to construct the memorial on at that time. 

What was the impact of the Ombudsman’s report on the project? 

Manatū Taonga’s decision to seek another site for the National Erebus Memorial is based solely on the updated geotechnical advice we commissioned and received in 2023.  

The Ombudsman recommended that the Ministry engage with opponents of the memorial before construction began at Dove-Myer Robinson Park to attempt to resolve their sense of grievance. As confirmed by the Ombudsman, we took appropriate steps to implement that recommendation and the investigation was closed early in 2023, prior to the new geotechnical report about the status of Dove-Myer Robinson Park being provided to the Ministry.  

How can I keep up to date with the memorial's progress?

Regular updates on the memorial development project will be posted on the Projects update page.

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 have members of Operation Overdue. 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 17th August 2023