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Thirtieth Anniversary of the Erebus Disaster

Media Statement

24 November 2009

Thirtieth Anniversary of the Erebus Disaster

A revamped feature on by Ministry for Culture and Heritage historian Imelda Bargas tells the story of the Erebus disaster from the first Antarctic sightseeing flights operated by Air New Zealand, to the airline’s recent apology to families of victims of the Erebus disaster.

The 28th of November 2009 commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Erebus disaster. Those interested in learning more about it can read about events leading up to the crash of Flight TE901 on 28th November 1979, the investigation and inquiry that followed, and the ongoing debate over who was at fault.

Others who have long followed news of the Erebus disaster might be interested in revisiting how they first heard the news that something was wrong with Flight TE901.

“For a number of hours it was unclear what had happened to Flight TE901 and everyone hoped that there were survivors. Many people probably went to bed on 28th November without knowing what happened to the flight, and woke to the news the following day that the wreckage of the aircraft had been sighted”.

“We’re interested in collecting people’s memories of how they heard the news that something was wrong with Flight TE901 and they can share them in the community contributions section of the site.”

“Maybe you stayed up that night to watch the live All Blacks versus Italy and heard the news that the wreckage had been sighted during half time, or maybe you attended one of the first church services, held before confirmation was received that there were no survivors”. Ministry historian Imelda Bargas said today.

The site features radio reports given as news of Flight TE901 came to hand and includes Air New Zealand Chief Executive Morrie Davis’ announcement that the wreckage of the aircraft had been sighted in Antarctica.

The website also includes information on the police operation to recover and identify the victims of the disaster, the psychological toll ‘Operation Overdue’ had on those involved, and the recognition that has been given to them in the years that followed.

Further information is available at the following link:


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