Parnell Heritage is opposed to a national memorial to victims of the Erebus disaster at a "pocket park" in their suburb, saying it would be better placed on a cliff top or a site with an open vista.

In April - following three years of consultations with the families of 257 people who died when an Air New Zealand flight collided with Mt Erebus in Antarctica in 1979 - it was announced the memorial would be erected at Auckland's Dove-Myer Robinson Park.

The memorial, entitled Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song, incorporates a stainless steel walkway projecting outward to the horizon on a lawn overlooking Judges Bay.

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

Parnell Heritage has expressed its concerns about the site of the memorial in a letter to Ministry for Culture and Heritage chief executive Bernadette Cavanagh.

The heritage group supports a memorial in Auckland where many of the Erebus victims came from, said co-chairs Mary Barry and Julie Hill, but did not accept the large concrete structure should be placed in an inner-city jewel "that is treasured as a precious green sanctuary amongst the pressures of urban living".

Advertisement

"This pocket park is a site of historic importance in which resided notable members of the early European Auckland community and witnessed the early dialogue and respectful care between European and Maori," the letter said.

Barry and Hill acknowledged the desire of the victims' families to have a memorial site that is not a cemetery, but said it would have a better impact placed on a cliff top or a site with an open vista.

"It would seem the message and grandeur of the design would be lost amongst parkland trees and would be best served surrounded by open space," they said in the letter.

The Erebus Memorial is planned to be built in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, also known as the Parnell Rose Garden.
The Erebus Memorial is planned to be built in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, also known as the Parnell Rose Garden.

Parnell Heritage also believed there was no invitation for public input about the memorial's site, saying it should be "more thoroughly published before any clearing of the site and construction occurs".

"Many residents within the Parnell community wish to have a voice about the site, especially as such a monument will affect us all for many generations to come," Barry and Hill said in the letter.

Cavanagh was unavailable today, but the ministry's manager for memorials and taonga, Brodie Stubbs, said it would get in touch with Parnell Heritage about the issues raised in the letter.

"Erebus remains one of New Zealand's worst accidents in terms of loss of life, and the Dover-Myer Robinson Park was identified by Auckland Council as an appropriate place for a national memorial.

"We have worked closely with the Auckland Council in selecting a suitable site that took into account heritage values, feedback from family members of those who died in the Erebus accident, and consultation with a number of stakeholders."

Stubbs said the Waitematā Local Board gave approval in principle for the memorial to be built at the site and set a number of parameters to protect the heritage and public use values, which the memorial design meets.

The National Erebus Memorial design was selected by a panel of design experts and reviewed by the Auckland Urban Design Panel and the Waitematā Local Board, he said.

Last month, Cavanagh said the project was now in the "developed design phase", where officials were working closely with Studio Pacific Architecture on the details of the memorial.

"Erebus remains one of New Zealand's worst accidents. This memorial will go some way in reflecting the loss felt by family and friends of the passengers and crew, as well as the impact on the nation."

In April, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the memorial, in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, overlooking the Waitematā, "is in a beautiful setting".

Advertisement