Suzanne Marinovic's body was brought home after she was killed in the 1979 Air New Zealand plane crash at Mt Erebus and buried in Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery.

Tonci Marinovic, 80, visited the grave yesterday to remember his first wife, who died aged 29.

Today, the 38th anniversary of the disaster, which killed all 257 people on the sightseeing flight to Antarctica, he will attend an Air New Zealand commemoration.

Wreckage from the Air New Zealand DC-10 after it crashed on Mt Erebus in Antarctica.
Wreckage from the Air New Zealand DC-10 after it crashed on Mt Erebus in Antarctica.

The couple were together for seven years and were both flight attendants at the airline.

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Suzanne had helped organise fundraising to fly 230 disadvantaged children to Disneyland and she won third place in the 1977 Miss Airlines International Pageant in Miami.

"She was a very popular person and in the prime of her life," Tonci recalls. "We were trying to have a family but It didn't happen. I kept flying. We were looking forward to many years together. This [Erebus] killed it all off."

"It's almost 40 years ago and I have another life, but the fact of it is still there."

Tonci later remarried. With his new wife Jeanette - who had two daughters from a previous marriage - he had a son, Stefan, the All Whites goalkeeper.

Tonci Marinovic, who is involved in the group trying to get a national Erebus memorial established in time for the 40th anniversary in 2019, is disappointed that after so many years there is still no national memorial that names all of the dead.

The memorial on Mt Erebus in Antarctica to the 257 people who died in the plane crash on November 28, 1979.
The memorial on Mt Erebus in Antarctica to the 257 people who died in the plane crash on November 28, 1979.

There are several memorials, including the metal cross on Mt Erebus. At Waikumete there is a memorial that names those who couldn't be positively identified or were never found, along with a small plaque inscribed: "In remembrance of all those lost in the Mt Erebus air disaster November 28, 1979." A memorial to the crew is sited near Auckland International Airport, on Tom Pearce Drive.

The memorial at Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery for those in the Mt Erebus crash whose remains were not found or couldn't be identified. Photo / Martin Johnston
The memorial at Auckland's Waikumete Cemetery for those in the Mt Erebus crash whose remains were not found or couldn't be identified. Photo / Martin Johnston
The plaque at the base of the Waikumete memorial in remembrance of
The plaque at the base of the Waikumete memorial in remembrance of "all those" who died in the Mt Erebus plane crash. Photo / Martin Johnston

Marinovic said that without a national memorial there is no one place to gather on anniversaries and people go to the various sites.

He notes the comparatively rapid creation of the Canterbury earthquakes memorial wall beside the Avon River in Christchurch on which is inscribed the names of the 185 who died. Its dedication occurred in February, six years after the deadly 2011 quake. The project cost $11 million.

He suggests that near the Wintergarden in the Auckland Domain would be a good site for an Erebus disaster memorial wall bearing the names of all the 237 passengers and 20 crew who died in New Zealand's deadliest civil disaster.

Richard Waugh, a spokesman for the Erebus memorial group, said it was focused at first on getting a government commitment that there should be a memorial, not where it should be located.

However, he said, it seemed most likely that it would be in greater Auckland, since most of those who died were from the region.

He said families had said they wanted a memorial that is elegant, accessible, and not in a cemetery.

Group members last week vented their frustration at what they consider the lack of progress by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in creating a national memorial.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office said officials would soon advise her on the issue.

Air New Zealand, when asked if it supported the push for a national memorial, said this was for the Government to decide, as the airline's owner in 1979. If the Government proceeded with the idea, the company would work constructively to help achieve it.

The company said it would today host families affected by the Erebus and 2008 Perpignan crashes at the Momentum sculpture at its Auckland head office. A small memorial event will be held at the Erebus memorial at Scott Base in Antarctica, a tribute will be placed at the Waikumete memorial, and some crew choose the airport memorial as their focus for the day.

Epsom MP David Seymour is trying to rally parliamentary support for a national memorial and has proposed a debate in the House today.

He said it will require a Herculean effort to design and build the memorial, find a suitable site, gain council consent and finance the project, and all within two years.

Aviation workers' union E tu said it supports the call for a national memorial.