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New site required for National Erebus Memorial due to safety concerns

Media release: 28 April 2023

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage announced today that significant damage caused at the National Erebus Memorial site by recent extreme and unprecedented weather events in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, means a new enduring home for the memorial needs to be found.

"This morning I met with families who lost their loved ones in the Erebus disaster, and members of the Operation Overdue recovery team, to inform them of my decision to seek a new site for the National Erebus Memorial," said Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae, Secretary and Chief Executive for Culture and Heritage.

"This has been a difficult decision to make because I know how upsetting it is for families. They remain at the absolute heart of this kaupapa."

"When Taurarua / Dove-Myer Robinson Park in Parnell was selected as the site for a dedicated National Erebus Memorial in 2018, it was a safe and fitting site to commemorate the 257 people who tragically lost their lives on the slopes of Mt Erebus, Antarctica on 28 November 1979.

"Following the unprecedented and extreme weather in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland earlier this year, and the significant damage to the coastline near the site for the memorial, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage commissioned updated geotechnical engineering advice to ensure the design of the memorial is appropriate both now, and in the future.

"However, the updated geotechnical advice shows that building the memorial at the Taurarua / Dove-Myer Robinson Park is no longer suitable or safe for the long term. Based on careful consideration of the advice, and after discussions with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust, Auckland Council and our other project partners, I have decided a new, enduring site for the memorial needs to be found.

"This morning I spoke with Erebus whānau, who have been incredibly supportive and gracious throughout this long journey. It is upsetting that we were not able to share better news with them today. I know the families have waited for years to see a National Erebus Memorial realised.

"While this setback is undoubtably difficult to hear, we remain committed to realising the memorial and will be taking time to carefully consider what the next steps will be.

"Manatū Taonga will continue to work closely with Erebus families, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust, Auckland Council and our other partners to secure a new, permanent home for the National Erebus Memorial.

"Erebus remains the worst civil accident in our history, and the sheer scale of the loss shocked the nation. The tragedy and its aftermath have left a lasting legacy on our national identity and deserves, along with the 257 treasured people who lost their lives that day, to be appropriately commemorated.

"I am speaking directly to the Erebus families when I say that despite this setback, me and my team at Manatū Taonga are absolutely and resolutely committed to securing a home for the National Erebus Memorial that endures for present and future generations of New Zealanders," said Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae.

Updated on 30th June 2023