Image: An aerial photograph of Dove-Myer Robinson Park in Auckland's Parnell showing the memorial site

A place for the families

At the time it occurred, the Erebus accident was one of the world’s worst civil aviation tragedies and the sheer scale of the loss shocked the nation.

Since Dove-Myer Robinson Park was confirmed as the memorial site, some Erebus tragedy family members who have visited the park have expressed that they feel an affinity with the site as the home for the memorial.

The park offers a place for the memories of those who died to be held gently in the hillside glade – embraced, but not constrained, by the trees. The site gives both the memorial and the surrounding trees the room to exist and be experienced in their own rights.

David Ling, who lost his mother in the accident, says,

The site in Parnell is a beautiful and peaceful place, tucked away and ideal for quiet reflection on loss and what might have been.

Protecting the pōhutukawa

The memorial has been designed specifically for the site and responds accordingly to the natural environment. The notable pōhutukawa, and other heritage trees in the surrounding area, are integral to the design and will remain completely protected.

Pōhutukawa tree in the park

Image: The magnificent pōhutukawa on the site. Photo published with kind permission of the New Zealand Notable Trees Trust (Brad Cadwallader)

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has reviewed the arboricultural 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.

An Arboricultural Assessment report has been produced 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 pōhutukawa. All necessary steps will be taken to ensure the tree is protected during construction and beyond.

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 and 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. 

Responding to the community: 

While the original memorial plans posed no risk to the notable pōhutukawa tree, during the Ministry’s engagement with the community, a range of additional commitments have been developed in response to concerns.  

In particular, we have confirmed the tree will not be pruned for construction purposes. Previous plans included a very small amount of pruning in order to ensure the tree was not affected during construction. However, it has now been agreed the tree will remain untouched.    

In addition, we have committed to shortening the ‘ice wall’ of the memorial by approximately one metre, so that the memorial completely avoids the protected root zone of the tree, provided the necessary variations to regulatory approvals can be obtained. 

The following images show the relationship of the memorial to the tree.

Plan showing location of tree canopy in relation to memorial

Click here to view detailed plan (PDF 499KB)

This drawing shows the degree to which the memorial foundation extends under the pōhutukawa dripline (the outer edge of the tree’s canopy). Excavation for this will be 1.25m long by 230mm deep. The tree trunk is approximately 20 metres from the dripline and is not shown in this picture.

Diagram show changes to existing park

Click here to view detailed plan (PDF 762KB)

This drawing provides a close view of the extent of ground works and highlights the areas of the memorial construction and earthworks that are within the dripline of the surrounding trees.

The small pink triangular area highlighted at the bottom right hand of the drawing, shows the area of excavation underneath the pōhutukawa dripline to accommodate the memorial footing. The extent of this excavation is described above.

The other pink highlighted area adjacent to the pōhutukawa dripline shows where fill is installed over the existing ground level. Any work in the vicinity of these areas will be undertaken under supervision of the arborist.

Diagram showing impact of memorial on surrounding plants and trees

Click here to view detailed plan (PDF 900KB)

This drawing shows the extent of the memorial footprint in respect of the glade and significant ecological zones. The red outline shows the overall memorial footprint and the green outline shows the tree protection zones.

Read the Arboricultural Assessment (PDF 2.3MB)

Respecting the heritage

The rich history of the site and surrounding area will be respected and protected.

Archaeological Authority for the memorial was granted by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga in September 2020, following a detailed archaeological assessment of the site. The authority provides thorough information on how the heritage values of the site will be properly respected and protected.

Resource Consent was granted for the memorial by an independent commissioner appointed by Auckland Council. In granting consent, the Commissioner remarked that: 'Any adverse effects on the environment would be at most minor, and less than minor on any person...'

The headland at the eastern end of the bay was the site of Taurarua Pā and the beach provided a tauranga waka (canoe landing). Taurarua was a valuable source of fish and shellfish, the gathering of which continues to the present day.

The archaeological assessments note the memorial will be near two recorded archaeological sites. It will be located:

  • near the former site of Mataharehare Pā, and
  • within the former Kilbryde property owned by Sir John Logan Campbell.

An archaeologist will be on site during construction to monitor all earthworks and ensure any archaeological evidence encountered is correctly investigated, recorded and analysed.

Additional resources:

Iwi support

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.

Read Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s public statement of support for the memorial

Read the Cultural Monitoring Plan

Opportunities exist for the development, with input from mana whenua, of wider storytelling of the memorial site and surrounding area – to share the interesting history of the places and people connected to the whenua in an inclusive, engaging and accessible way.

Updated on 27th November 2021