Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is "very comfortable" with planning for an Erebus memorial in the Parnell Rose Gardens despite the controversy surrounding it.
Ardern's comments come as Auckland Council's Waitematā Local Board prepares to decide whether to give formal landowner consent, having given approval in principle a year ago, for the memorial to be built in the park officially named Dove-Myer Robinson Park.
Formal consent was delayed until after the local body elections following complaints that the public didn't get adequate opportunity to have a say.
Auckland Council has since held an information day at the park and sought feedback.
Jo Malcolm, whose husband's father died in the Erebus crash, and Annie Coney have led local opposition.
In a letter responding to Malcolm, the Prime Minister said she was "very comfortable with the ministry's processes around the development and design of the memorial".
The design and location had come after "a long process and careful consideration", said Ardern, who is Minister of Culture and Heritage, the department driving the project.
Dove-Myer Robinson Park was fitting and in keeping with "key feedback" that the memorial be in "a place [suitable] for quiet contemplation and informal family gatherings; and in a secluded park-like location".
Ardern's letter, however, did not mention information released to Malcolm under the Official Information Act that indicates Dove-Myer Robinson Park became the only Auckland option as several other possible sites fell away for various reasons.
Malcolm claims the Government ploughed on because of time constraints even after its consultants - Boffa Miskell - thought it was a poor location.
The ministry has told the Herald that by the time it received the Boffa Miskell report it "was confident that Dove-Myer Robinson Park was a good fit".
Malcolm and Coney both live a short stroll from the park but say they are not Nimbys. The project had been railroaded, the memorial - Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song - was too big, the park too small and it would change its vibe.
They have taken their campaign to Facebook, raised a petition and hired lawyers.
• Phil Taylor: Accentuate the positive
• Premium - Making of a monster: Phil Taylor on 30 years of covering Malcolm Rewa and the Susan Burdett murder
• Premium - 'They lied, leading directly to a miscarriage of justice': Former top justice official's warning about jailhouse informants
• Phil Taylor, scribbler, meets sharp as Phil Taylor, darts champ
The controversy had soured the 40th anniversary for some of the families of the 257 people who died on Flight 901.
"It's hard for family members," said Dan Moloney, who was 20 when his father, a flight engineer died. "It's always emotional when it comes up, what with the controversy in the past, and now this."
Moloney, who lives in Point Chevalier, was one of two members of Erebus families on the panel that chose the design. Designs were called for after Dove-Myer Robinson Park was selected by the ministry last year.
Moloney thinks it is a good choice and notes that it overlooks Teal Park in Mechanics Bay, which is where Air New Zealand's forerunner, Tasman Empire Airways Limited, was based and where crew, including his father, trained.
Paul Gilberd, whose grandfather was on the flight, said he hopes the memorial goes ahead after many false starts. "Those of us who couldn't go to Antarctica to acknowledge our loss have had 39 years of waiting."
Dove-Myer Robinson Park had the blessing of mana whenua and Auckland Council, said Gilberd.
"I grew up in Parnell and also think of those beautiful gardens as precious. It would be wonderful to think that the current residents of Parnell could find it in their hearts to share that park with our families."
David Allan, whose parents and sister died, also used to live in the area and knows the park and was "rapt" with the choice of site which, he said, was "fitting and practical".
"I'm not sure about the process as far as residents went. If that was a problem, that is unfortunate and probably does need to be addressed, but some of what has been going on lately is pretty insensitive, to say the least."
"I understand people may have different views but I find it incredible that people could feel that their local park is actually their own sort of private garden. It's public land."
North Shore resident Lizzie Oakes, who lost her grandmother in the disaster, said the park is a "perfect" location and that those campaigning against the memorial being built there were "small-minded and incredibly selfish".
A call by Auckland Council for public submissions about the location received 895 responses - more than half from outside the Waitematā Local Board area - of which 57 per cent said they would have a more negative experience in the park with the memorial there.
Those who lived closest to the park (within the Local Board area) were more strongly against the memorial being built there. It would worsen the experience of the park for 74 per cent of those people, while 67 per cent said they would visit less often.
Erebus memorial: The story so far
Erebus will be the third national memorial to a disaster, after memorials acknowledging the Canterbury earthquake and Tangiwai train disaster. The previous and current governments were approached by a group who believe it is a significant oversight that the disaster has not been recognised with a national memorial and requested it be built for the 40th anniversary.
• November 2017: On the 38th anniversary, newly-elected Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the Government wanted to create one, hopefully in time for the 40th anniversary. However, a year later, she said that target wasn't possible and the priority was to "get the memorial right rather than getting it in place quickly".
• November 2018: Waitematā Local Board, dominated by centre-left politicians, gives landowner approval in principle for use of Dove-Myer Robinson Park.
• April 2019: Design selected, Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song, by Wellington firm Studio Pacific Architecture jointly with designer and artist Jason O'Hara and musician Warren Maxwell.
• September-October 2019: The project runs into controversy with complaints about a lack of public consultation. Consequently, Auckland Council holds an information weekend at the park and invites feedback, a sod-turning event is cancelled and landowner consent decision is pushed back to December.
• Next Tuesday: Waitematā Local Board to decide whether to give landowner consent for Dove-Myer Robinson Park.