The Prime Minister has today unveiled the long-awaited design for the National Erebus Memorial, after three years of consultation with the 257 families impacted in the 1979 disaster.

The memorial, entitled Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song, will be erected in Auckland's Dove-Myer Robinson Park in the suburb of Parnell, and is set for completion by May 2020.

The structure incorporates a stainless steel walkway projecting outward to the horizon.

The design was described by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as "evoking the great emptiness" still endured by the families affected in the 1979 Air NZ plane crash in Antarctica.


"As the memorial is created, some 257 stainless steel snowflakes will be cut out and given to the families, connecting them to the site and providing a symbolic keepsake that can be passed on to others," Ardern said.

The successful memorial submission was drafted by Wellington firm Studio Pacific Architecture in a joint design with artist Jason O'Hara and musician Warren Maxwell.

Ardern said they had some "fantastic submissions", with the decision coming down to a recommendation from a Design Selection Panel.

That choice took into consideration feedback from family members of those who died, recovery operation workers, and also took consultation from Auckland Council.

"The design reflects the enormity of the tragedy and provides a strong sense of connection and loss. The design has a strong narrative to engage visitors and provides a sanctuary within its walls, evoking the great emptiness experienced for those who lost their lives," Ardern said.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage was first approached about the idea of a National Erebus Memorial in early 2016.

While the Ardern-led Government agreed to build a national memorial to Erebus victims in July 2018, the memorial will not be completed in time for the 40th anniversary of the 1979 disaster this year, as first envisioned.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the progress made on building the memorial, adding it was long overdue.

"With Flight 901 having left from Auckland and many of those on board residents from our city, it is appropriate for the memorial to be built here," Goff said.

"It has been important to work with the families of the Erebus victims and wherever possible take on board their wishes.

"The memorial in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, overlooking the Waitematā, is in a beautiful setting, which I hope will provide comfort and solace to those who lost family and friends on Erebus,"

Studio Pacific Architecture founding director Nick Barratt-Boyes described it as a "privilege" to contribute to a memorial experience that captures the "adventurous spirit" of those who lost their lives.