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Erebus National Memorial Delayed

Erebus National Memorial Delayed!

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has recently told Erebus families that the Erebus National Memorial will not be ready for the 40th anniversary of the accident on 28th November 2019. The scale and complexity of the Erebus National Memorial means it will be delayed until at least mid-2020, according to Chief Executive Paul James.

The accident of Air New Zealand McDonnell Douglas DC-10 ZK-NZP, Flight TE901, on the slopes of Antarctica’s Mt. Erebus on 28th November 1979 with 257 fatalities - 237 passengers and 20 crew - is New Zealand’s worst civil disaster, and still the Southern Hemisphere’s worst aviation accident.

The Erebus National Memorial group has been advocating since early 2016 for the long overdue national memorial. Spokesperson Rev Dr Richard Waugh says, “While we commend the Government’s work for the Erebus National Memorial, it was very disappointing to recently learn that the Ministry for Culture and Heritage have indicated to Erebus families that the memorial will not be ready for the 40th anniversary in November 2019, but now into 2020, and maybe later.”

The Erebus National Memorial group, which includes Erebus families and many prominent citizens (such as Lady June Hillary), first proposed the national memorial in early 2016, which would have given ample time for the national memorial project to be completed in time for the 40th anniversary. The delay follows a longstanding reluctance to appropriately remember and honour the victims of the Erebus accident. Ongoing controversy surrounding the cause(s) of the accident should not inhibit in any way the priority of creating an elegant and accessible national memorial for those who died.

Rev Dr Richard Waugh comments further, “It is vital that a truly bipartisan approach be taken by all politicians and political parties for the Erebus National Memorial. Such full and positive support will demonstrate genuine care for the Erebus families. This accident is an important part of our national identity and memory and the building of a national memorial must be a continuing priority. While it seems that the Erebus National Memorial will not be ready for the 40th anniversary, we are proposing that something meaningful and special is still planned for 28th November 2019.”

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