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Goff and Hillary commemorate Erebus crash

Goff and Hillary commemorate Erebus crash

Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Sir Edmund Hillary today took part in ceremonies in Antarctica commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Erebus disaster.

Two hundred New Zealanders and 57 passengers from seven other nations died when Air New Zealand Flight TE901 crashed into the slopes of Mt Erebus at 12.49 pm on 28 November 1979. It was the world’s fourth-worst aircraft disaster at the time.

Mr Goff laid a wreath at the crash site. He later spoke during a service at Scott Base, and Sir Edmund read a poem written for the occasion by Bill Manhire.

Mr Goff said that Air New Zealand had understood the New Zealand public's fascination with Antarctica's unforgiving landscape when it first began scenic flights to the continent in 1977.

“The crash had a huge impact in a small country like ours. It seemed that everyone knew someone caught up in the tragedy," Mr Goff said.

"Twenty five years on, the grief caused by the disaster remains in the memories of those who lost friends or family. Those of us not directly affected still remember the huge sense of shock that gripped the country on the day of the crash and the days that followed.

"I was in London at the time and remember going down to New Zealand House, as hundreds of other New Zealanders living there did, to look at the list of passengers posted at the High Commission. We were a long way from home but united with our fellow New Zealanders by the sense of loss we all felt.

"On a clear day Mt Erebus dominates the view from Scott Base. It is still impossible to look at that view without recalling the lives that were lost on the mountain on 28 November 1979.

“Twenty five years after Erebus, as we approach fifty years of continuous New Zealand presence in Antarctica, we remain committed both to our work here, and to honouring the memory of those who died," Mr Goff said.

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