National Erebus Memorial shortlist due

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The Government is today expected to announce a shortlist of designs for the National Erebus Memorial. Next year marks 40 years since Air New Zealand flight 901 smashed into the lower slopes of Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 passengers and crew. It remains one of the worst civil accidents in New Zealand’s history.

NZILA president Brad Coombs was on the memorial design judging panel, tasked with whittling down the 33 entries to six finalists. He says it was a rigorous process and he was impressed with the level of thought and detail which had gone in to some entries.

Koru capsule and cross on Mt Erebus. The cross is located approximately 3 km south-east of the 1979 crash site. This stainless steel cross was erected in 1987 to replace the original wooden one, which had eroded. The Koru was created by Christchurch sculptor, Phil Price. Photo credit: Daniel O’Sullivan, 2009-10, Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection.

Koru capsule and cross on Mt Erebus. The cross is located approximately 3 km south-east of the 1979 crash site. This stainless steel cross was erected in 1987 to replace the original wooden one, which had eroded. The Koru was created by Christchurch sculptor, Phil Price. Photo credit: Daniel O’Sullivan, 2009-10, Antarctica New Zealand Pictorial Collection.

Those who make the shortlist will be invited to develop detailed concept designs before a winner is selected.

Auckland’s Dove-Myer Robinson Park / Taurarua Pā, commonly known as the Parnell Rose Gardens has been selected as the site for the memorial. Finalists will be given further site information and parameters to incorporate into their design, such as financial, environmental and resource management (town planning) requirements and construction time frames as well as a summary of feedback from stakeholders. Their work will then be technically assessed for compliance with the design parameters, and be submitted for public feedback as well as feedback from the bereaved families.

Auckland’s Parnell Rose Gardens, the site of the memorial.

Auckland’s Parnell Rose Gardens, the site of the memorial.

The Auckland Urban Design Panel will also review the final design to ensure that it speaks to the heritage and cultural values of the site.

While the monument won’t be finished in time for the 40th anniversary, bereaved families say they’re pleased moves are finally being made to build a national tribute. After the accident recovery workers placed a cross near the crash site on Erebus, and another memorial was built  at Waikumete cemetery in Auckland. It was placed above the gravesite of the 44 people whose remains were not positively identified, or whose bodies had not been recovered from the crash site. A brass plaque was added to commemorate all those who died. A memorial garden was also created at Auckland Airport to commemorate the crew who died in the disaster. But none of these was a Government-initiated project.

The national monument is expected to open in the first half of 2020. Watch the video below to hear more of Brad Coombs’ comments on the memorial selection process.