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Lack of Progress on Erebus National Memorial

Lack of Progress on Erebus National Memorial – appeal to all political parties

“The excuses and the procrastination are extremely frustrating. We have been ignored, resulting in a lack of any tangible progress over much of this year. It is embarrassing for the Erebus families and the procrastination can only be described as appalling.”So says Erebus families’ representative David Allan (of Hawkes Bay), who lost both parents and his teenage sister in the 1979 Erebus aviation tragedy.

A voluntary group has been campaigning the past eighteen months for the national memorial to the 257 people who died in the 1979 Mt. Erebus air accident of Air New Zealand McDonnell Douglas DC-10 ZK-NZP, Flight TE901, with no tangible interest shown by Government.

Spokesperson Rev Dr Richard Waugh comments,“The national memorial for New Zealand’s worst civil disaster has been too long coming. Compared to the responsiveness of central and local Government to the Canterbury Earthquake victims’ families and Pike River families, it is a matter of deep regret that the Government has dragged its feet in responding to the pleas of the thousands of people who remain affected by the Mt. Erebus accident. The families are quite reasonably asking for a special place where all 257 names can be together and where people can gather for reflection, prayer and remembering.”

The voluntary advisory group, with Lady June Hillaryas Patron, is advocating for the new national memorial to be ready in time for the 40th anniversary in November 2019.

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Challenge to all political parties

Richard Waugh and David Allan are issuing the following challenge to all political parties, on behalf of the Erebus National Memorial project, representing many Erebus families;

“We are now asking all political parties to consider the importance of the Erebus National Memorial and state their support or otherwise. This memorial is more important than party politics and it would be a further tragedy to many of the older Erebus family members if the national memorial was not ready for the 40thanniversary in November 2019.”

Dr Waugh adds, “Our advisory group is in touch with many surviving spouses and siblings and other close family, many of whom are now in their 70s and 80s. They are waiting for a proper national memorial to the air accident. Did the Government tell the Pike River families and the families of those who died in the Canterbury earthquakes to wait 40 or 50 years before any memorial? Of course not. Yet it is not too late for the next Government to help the Erebus families in their ongoing grief, create an elegant and attractive place where all 257 names can be honoured, and where New Zealand as a nation can remember its worst civil disaster.”

Other Information

Considering the magnitude of the Mt. Erebus accident (still the worst aviation accident in the Southern Hemisphere), with 257 fatalities, the number of close family is in the hundreds. With grandchildren and wider family and friends, thousands of New Zealanders, and others from overseas have direct links to the accident. 58 passengers came from overseas: Australia (2), Canada (2), France (1), Japan (24), Switzerland (2), United Kingdom (5) and the United States (22). Many of the children and grandchildren have placed heartfelt messages on the National Memorial website.

The New Zealand Airline Pilots Association maintains a significant website about the Mt. Erebus accident, including a ‘Roll of Remembrance’ listing all the crew and passengers on the flight and with some public comments by relatives. See:

Two specific ways people can help the Erebus National Memorial Project;

1) Register interest about the national memorial on the website. Relatives of those who died in the Mt. Erebus accident are especially encouraged to identify themselves for the purpose of regular communication updates.

2) Write to The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Parliament, Private Bag, Wellington (and copy to Erebus National Memorial PO Box 82-363 Highland Park, Auckland 2143), supporting the concept of an Erebus National Memorial.


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