A pilots' group is growing impatient with the lack of progress on a national memorial to commemorate the Erebus disaster.

At a service to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Erebus disaster, NZ Air Line Pilots Association chief executive Andrew Ridling said he had talked to the Government about building one.

"When will New Zealanders finally get the official Erebus Memorial those passengers, crew, the families and our community deserve? What will it take to hasten its construction, marked to begin today?

"We appreciate the efforts of the Prime Minister and Minister of Transport in supporting the memorial and hastening its construction. We urge New Zealanders to get behind the Government on this issue."

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A proposal to build a memorial in Parnell has hit opposition and a final decision on building it there has not been made. Twford said there was a ''rock solid'' commitment to build a memorial and the Government was working through the issue with the local board.

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Among the 257 dead on the Air New Zealand flight were 20 crew, making the crash in Antarctica one of the country's worst workplace accidents.

They were remembered by about 100 people during a service at Auckland Airport as the workers who went to their jobs on November 28, 1979, and didn't come home.

At the service, water from ice melt in Antarctica was sprinkled on flowers and the 20 plants to mark the crew who were lost. Twenty Monarch butterflies were also released.

Ridling is an Air New Zealand Dreamliner pilot and said the association fought hard to protect the reputations of the pilots.

The Erebus Crew Memorial at Auckland Airport. Photo / Grant Bradley
The Erebus Crew Memorial at Auckland Airport. Photo / Grant Bradley

Older association members had told him of the "incredible efforts the association went to, to protect colleagues and their families rights and their professional reputations in the tumultuous months that followed from unfair conjecture and blame".

He had worked with other members who followed relatives into the industry, despite losing them so tragically on that fateful day in Antarctica.

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New Zealand's aviation industry changed forever following the crash, he said at the Erebus Crew Memorial Gardens at Auckland Airport.

About 100 people were at the service to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Erebus disaster. Photo / Grant Bradley
About 100 people were at the service to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Erebus disaster. Photo / Grant Bradley

"Though I was still in high school on the day of the disaster, I've now worked as a pilot for nearly 30 years, always with the background knowledge of the Erebus legacy."

The association today launched a website (erebus.co.nz) about the disaster.

It is a comprehensive source of information about the crash of TE901, the people and the "dark days that followed as the country tried to come to terms with an event and its causes".

It is dedicated to those who died and the families left behind.

"It aims to ensure that the memories of those who died are never forgotten and the lessons learnt along this journey," said Ridling in a speech prepared for the commemoration.

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The tail plane wreckage from the Air New Zealand Airbus A320 which crashed off the coast of Perpignan, France. Photo / File
The tail plane wreckage from the Air New Zealand Airbus A320 which crashed off the coast of Perpignan, France. Photo / File

"Today we are reminded that steel, technological developments and company profits do not make an industry – it is the dedication, skills and the sheer hard mahi of the people and those who support them that is aviation's lifeblood. And it is days like today that remind us of this."

The country had another tragic reminder of Erebus on the same day, 11 years ago. Five New Zealanders and two German pilots died off the coast of Perpignan, France, when taking delivery of an Airbus A320 which crashed into the sea.

"For me, and I know many New Zealanders at the time, this brought back painful memories of Erebus, and for those who weren't around in 1979, we together experienced the horrible shock of that one image – a broken tail plane with the iconic Koru floating within the debris of the Mediterranean," said Ridling.