Final approval for Erebus National Memorial

Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song  was announced as the winning design for the National Erebus Memorial in April 2019 following a national design competition. It was designed by Studio Pacific Architecture in collaboration with artists Jason O’Hara and Warren Maxwell.

Final landowner approval for the Erebus National Memorial to be built at Parnell’s Dove Myer Robinson Park was given by the Waitemata Local Board on Tuesday (November 17), after more than five hours of deliberations.

This decision was the last step in the planning process following approvals by the Ministry of Culture & Heritage work, Resource Consent by an independent commissioner, Ngati Whatua Orakei blessing and archaeological authority by Heritage New Zealand.

The site faces Judges Bay and takes a small portion of grass area and step bank with the TePaerangi Ataata – Sky Song design by award-winning Studio Pacific Architecture, in collaboration with artists Jason O’Hara and Warren Maxwell.

The design incorporates a walkway with two feature walls, using materials which evoke the stark beauty of the Antarctic environment: one curved wall of mirrored stainless steel featuring 257 snowflake shapes cut out to represent each person who was lost; the other of white concrete, listing their names and an extract from Bill Manhire’s poem Erebus Voices. A glass balustrade at the apex provides expansive views.

The memorial, initiated by Howick’s Rev Dr Richard Waugh, has been a long time coming for the Erebus families.

Dr Waugh led one of the deputations and reported to the <ITALICS>Times, “The Erebus families have been waiting for more than 40 years for all 257 names of victims to be placed together on a national memorial where bereaved families and all New Zealanders can visit for contemplation, reflection and prayer.

“It is a disgrace such a memorial has taken this long. The kinder way we as a nation have cared and responded more recently to Pike River families and Canterbury Earthquake families is a hopeful sign.”

Dr Waugh said a Parnell protest group had put forward many objections which were carefully considered and led to some changes to the memorial design.

“With the memorial taking up only about 179sqm in the 55,000sqm park, there is minimal space – less than one third of one per cent – taken and with the consequential gain of a wonderful Sky Song walkway design and elevated view of the Waitemata harbour,” he said.

“I would ask the protesting group to accept the democratic decision of the Waitemata Local Board and give renewed respect to the Erebus families. They have suffered enough.

“Parnell is one of New Zealand’s most historic suburbs. Local residents now have the opportunity and privilege of embracing the memorial and Erebus families on behalf of all New Zealand.”

Captain Allan Boyce of Whitford was another presenter at the Waitemata Local Board meeting. “At the time of the accident I was the rostered standby co-pilot and my name could easily have been amongst the list of deceased,” Captain Boyce said.

“I have always believed in the need for a suitable memorial to this tragedy. There is no doubt in my mind that the Dove Myer Robinson Park is a beautiful and fitting setting for a National Memorial to the greatest civil loss of life that New Zealand has ever suffered. It is the best site available.”