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Closure of Ombudsman investigation gives confidence in National Erebus Memorial

News: 10 February 2023

The Chief Ombudsman has completed his investigation into aspects of the processes and decision-making by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage in relation to the National Erebus Memorial. The Chief Ombudsman has also confirmed the Ministry has taken appropriate steps to implement his recommendation. 

“We are really pleased the Chief Ombudsman considers the Ministry has taken appropriate actions to implement his recommendation. This conclusion to the investigation gives further confidence in our intention to proceed with construction of this important national memorial, and to finally provide a place for the families and friends of those who lost their lives to come together and remember their loved ones,” says Glenis Philip-Barbara, Te Pou Mataaho o Te Hua Deputy Chief Executive Delivery. 

“We’ve taken a range of steps to help resolve the sense of grievance held by some in the community about the Memorial including formally acknowledging their sense of grievance. 

“We have also recommitted to ensuring the notable pōhutukawa near the site is properly respected and protected.  

“Based on these steps, the Chief Ombudsman is satisfied we have taken adequate and appropriate action. 

“While we may never be able to resolve all concerns about the Memorial, the Chief Ombudsman’s closure of the investigation strengthens our commitment to delivering the National Erebus Memorial for the families who lost their loved ones in the Erebus tragedy, and for all New Zealanders.   

“We’re committed to continuing to engage openly with everyone in the community about the Memorial as we look ahead.  

“It is time now to focus all our energy on the kaupapa of the National Erebus Memorial and help address the needs of the hundreds of whānau who so tragically lost their loved ones in the Erebus disaster on 28 November 1979. 

“We know the apology from Air New Zealand and the New Zealand Government in 2019, on the fortieth anniversary of the accident, brought tremendous relief to many families. But we also know many are still extremely hurt by the effects of the tragedy. 

“Erebus whānau have told us of their deep need for a place where they can see and touch the names of all those lost in the crash, a place where they can finally gather to remember their loved ones. After so many years this work is now critical.  We pay tribute to those who have led the struggle to see this Memorial realised, and give thanks for their spirit and resilience, kindness and compassion. 

“Our hope is the Memorial will bring enormous healing for them and we will be turning our attention to help bring about a new dawn for these families, after so many years of darkness. 

“We remain grateful for the leadership role taken by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust, who have shown the utmost manaakitanga to Erebus families through some very difficult times. E aku rangatira, nei rā te mihi maioha ki a koutou e mau tonu ana te aroha ki te tangata hei huarahi mā tatau. 

“As stewards of New Zealand’s arts, culture and heritage sector, we will continue working to help ensure that the many stories created by this country’s worst peacetime disaster, and the enormous impact Erebus had on us as a nation, are respected and remembered for generations to come,” said Glenis Philip Barbara. 

Updated on 10th February 2023