INDEPENDENT NEWS

37th Anniversary of Mt. Erebus Air Accident

Published: Fri 25 Nov 2016 09:38 PM
Monday is 37th Anniversary of Mt. Erebus Air Accident – New Zealand’s worst civil disaster (28th November 1979)
257 people died in the 1979 Mt. Erebus air accident of Air New Zealand McDonnell Douglas DC-10 ZK-NZP, Flight TE901; the fourth worst aviation disaster in the world at the time, and still the worst aviation accident in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 37th anniversary, on Monday 28th November 2016, gives the hundreds of families affected, and New Zealand as a nation, the opportunity to remember and reflect on a harrowing event in our history - and the opportunity to consider a long overdue national memorial.
A voluntary advisory group, with Lady June Hillary as Patron, is advocating for the new national memorial. See the new website for more information: www.erebusnationalmemorial.nz The national memorial, planned to be ready by the 40th anniversary in November 2019, will be a special place for families affected by the tragedy, to gather for reflection, prayer and contemplation.
It is a significant omission that there is presently no public memorial to the Erebus accident where all 257 names are gathered together. National memorial spokesperson, aviation chaplain and historian, Rev. Dr Richard Waugh QSM, of Auckland, reports that the 40th anniversary in November 2019 will be a very suitable time for the dedication of a new national memorial.
Dr Waugh says, “The Mt Erebus accident with 257 fatalities - 237 passengers and 20 crew - is still New Zealand’s worst civil disaster. New Zealand as a nation continues to be profoundly affected by the tragedy. It is a pastoral and public oversight that nothing has yet been done to establish a national memorial to the Mt. Erebus accident victims, especially for the many families involved. It is now time to put the controversy of the accident to one side, and focus on a national memorial to those who died; a special place for families and for all New Zealanders to remember.”
“Surviving spouses, siblings, and children of the victims are aging and many are asking for a national memorial to the accident, in time for the 40th anniversary. While some people have suggested we wait until the 50th anniversary in 2029, our advisory committee’s view is that waiting longer would be uncaring and insensitive to so many older relatives.”
“Our advisory group is in touch with many surviving spouses and siblings and other close family, who are now in their 70s and 80s, and who would very much like to have a proper national memorial to the air accident. Such a national memorial will be a sacred set-apart place where families and others can gather on special remembering occasions.”
The advisory group is in consultation with many families of those who died, the Government (Ministry for Culture & Heritage), Air New Zealand, and a variety of other organisations. The advisory group is aware that planning and fundraising needs to progress as soon as possible, if the national memorial is to be ready for the 40th anniversary in November 2019.
Dr Waugh and the advisory group encourages interested people to do two things:
1) Register an interest on the newly created website. Relatives of those who died in the Mt. Erebus accident are encouraged to identify themselves for the purpose of regular communication updates. See:www.erebusnationalmemorial.nz
2) Families and interested members of the public to email Hon. Maggie Barry ONZM, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage – m.barry@ministers.govt.nz - or write to her at Private Bag 18041, Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6160 (and copy to Erebus National Memorial on the website or write to PO Box 82-363 Highland Park, Auckland 2143), supporting the concept of a national memorial. Dr Waugh says, “It is helpful for our Government to know just how important the Mt. Erebus national memorial is to a wide cross-section of New Zealanders.”

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