Relatives of those who died in New Zealand's deadliest plane crash, the Mt Erebus disaster, have hit out in frustration over delays in creating a national memorial somewhere on mainland New Zealand.

The crash of an Air New Zealand DC-10 into the slopes of the volcano on Antarctica's Ross Island on November 28, 1979, is generally considered the country's worst civil disaster.

All 257 people on board the sightseeing flight - 237 passengers and 20 crew - were killed.

Wreckage of the crashed Air New Zealand plane on Mt Erebus in Antarctica. Photo / TVNZ
Wreckage of the crashed Air New Zealand plane on Mt Erebus in Antarctica. Photo / TVNZ

Memorials have been placed on Mt Erebus and at various other places, including at Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland.

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However, a group which includes Erebus families says: "There is presently no public memorial in New Zealand for the accident where all 257 names are together."

The patron of the Erebus National Memorial group is Lady June Hillary, whose second husband was the late Sir Edmund Hillary. Her first husband was Peter Mulgrew, who died in the Erebus crash.

A wooden cross was the first memorial on Mt Erebus to the 1979 plane crash there.
A wooden cross was the first memorial on Mt Erebus to the 1979 plane crash there.

A spokesman for the group, the Rev Richard Waugh, said it had first approached the Ministry for Culture and Heritage about a national memorial early last year.

"There's frustration, particularly from families, that there hasn't been more advance."

He said the group had sent emails about the matter to three ministers in the new Government, including to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is also the Minister for Culture and Heritage.

It had not received replies from the ministers.

David Allan lost both parents and a teenage sister in the accident, and he is a member of the memorial group.

He said: "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."

A metal memorial was placed after the condition of the wooden cross on Mt Erebus deteriorated.
A metal memorial was placed after the condition of the wooden cross on Mt Erebus deteriorated.

The group wants a national memorial to be ready for the 40th anniversary of the disaster in 2019. It envisages a "special place for the families affected by the tragedy, and for all New Zealanders, to remember the accident".

Waugh indicated the group's frustrations had been made worse when "Pike River has had such attention" - a reference to the Government's creation of an agency to make decisions on manned re-entry of the West Coast coal mine in which 29 men died in November 2010.

He said New Zealand continued to be profoundly affected by the Erebus tragedy.

"It is a pastoral and civil oversight that nothing has been done to establish a national memorial to the Mt Erebus accident victims and especially for the hundreds of families involved.

"We have been pleased to work with the ministry ... but progress has unfortunately been very slow."

The group is urging people to register their interest on its website and to write to the Prime Minister.

A spokesman for Ardern said: "The Prime Minister understands the concerns of the Erebus families and will shortly receive advice from officials on the issue of a national memorial."

The Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931 is New Zealand's second deadliest civil disaster, with the loss, according to the Encycopaedia of New Zealand, of 256 lives, although some sources say 258.