A decision on whether the national memorial designed for the 40th anniversary of the Erebus disaster is built in a Parnell park won't now be made until after the local body elections.

The decision has been pushed back until November or December and will be made by the newly elected Waitematā Local Board.

This has ramifications for the Government, which wanted to hold a sod-turning ceremony in Dove-Myer Robinson Park next month on the 40th anniversary of the air disaster.

The change of plan follows complaints by locals that consultation was inadequate. Targeted consultation, which ended yesterday, was done by Auckland Council after locals complained they had been left out.


But the issue continued to be divisive with people criticising the placement, the style and the process that decided where the national monument would go.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage is managing the project, including choice of design and location in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, also known as the Parnell Rose Gardens.

But landowner consent is needed from the Waitematā Local Board.

Board chairwoman, Pippa Coom, and deputy Shale Chambers, had planned to make a decision before the election but yesterday announced that it will now be left for a newly elected committee.

"Due to the need to make available additional information and to allow everyone with an interest to provide input we have decided to extend the consultation period and defer the landowner decision to the first available board meeting following the completion of the consultation," Coom said.

The deadline for feedback on the memorial has been extended until October 29 and a decision on whether landowner consent is granted will be considered at the board's first business meeting.

The memorial, Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song, which incorporates a stainless steel walkway projecting outward to the horizon, was designed with Dove-Myer Robinson Park in mind.

It is supported by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and a ceremony was planned at the site to mark the beginning of construction on November 28, exactly 40 years since the crash.


The ceremony will still be held on that date but most likely at a different venue and there will be no sod-turning element.

The ministry is to brief Ardern about cost and timetable implications.

A "significant proportion" of the $3 million budget for the "site-specific design" has been spent, according to a memo from the local board.

The Government had aimed to unveil the memorial next May.

The ministry told Erebus families in an email that the delay would enable concerns for a heritage pōhutukawa tree at the edge of the memorial site to be allayed.

"We can assure you there is no risk to this important tree. The extension to the consultation period will allow the ministry to work with Auckland Council to provide further information on these aspects of the memorial design."

Jo Malcolm, who with another resident, Annie Coney, started a petition, Save the Dove Myer-Robinson Lawn, said deferring the decision was "the right result".

Malcolm's father-in-law, Alan Stokes, was among 257 on flight TE901 which crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all on board.

Parnell locals Annie Coney and Jo Malcolm welcome delaying a decision on the Erebus Memorial. Photo / Michael Craig
Parnell locals Annie Coney and Jo Malcolm welcome delaying a decision on the Erebus Memorial. Photo / Michael Craig

The petition attracted 460 signatures. Malcolm said the extension gave locals time to see fuller information and she welcomed that the decision would be made by a new board free of the pressure to meet a deadline of the now-abandoned turning-of-the-sod ceremony.

"I think all good decisions benefit from a fresh set of eyes," Malcolm said.

Independent board member Rob Thomas said it is "a great win for democracy and due process".

"Council should reconsider its position on public consulting during election periods to avoid these types of mistakes in the future."

The decision achieves what Thomas sought to do at last month's local board meeting but his move to postpone a decision on landowner consent until after the election did not gain a seconder.