You have to wonder - with a government so hell bent on reviews, reports, committees and focus groups - how much of the advice generated is actually taken.

And if not, what's the point in asking for it? Why play the charade?

The site of the National Erebus Memorial is a classic example.


Read more:
Erebus memorial taken off fast track: Decision delayed until after local body elections
'Wrong design, wrong place': Opposition to Erebus plane crash memorial at Parnell Rose Gardens grows
Erebus plane crash: Parnell Heritage opposed to memorial at Auckland's Dove-Myer Robinson Park
Erebus disaster: Call for National Memorial help from families of victims of Air New Zealand flight TE901 plane crash

It's a plan attempted to be railroaded through, despite all the advice, and submissions to the contrary.

According to documents revealed under the Official Information Act, many experts felt the Dove Myer Robinson Park - known as the Parnell Rose Gardens - site for the Erebus Memorial was a poor location.

Consultants described the site as noisy, with no connection to the ill fated flight, and one that would "struggle to develop a memorial identity".

Yet it was still pushed ahead by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage regardless. Not only that, the ministry claimed its process was "robust".

Well, it can't have been that robust given it's now on hold due to the surge of public complaints and opposition.

The Government wanted a turning of the sod ceremony on the 40th anniversary of Erebus, November 28, and that's now off. The criticism is over a lack of public consultation, and a lack of input sought from now aggrieved neighbours.

So why would this open, honest, transparent Government, which says it's interested in consultation, claim a "robust process", when it was nothing of the sort?


They're peddling an impression that consultation means listening, it often doesn't. Just ask the polytechs or the businesses caught up in the CRL fiasco.

Publicly, this government likes to give the perception that it's interested in consulting, and hearing submissions, but the reality is quite different.

When it comes to the very sensitive issue of the National Erebus Memorial, it turns out there wasn't even enough consultation with Erebus families. Documents also revealed the ministry did not even share information with all the relevant decision makers.

It didn't voluntarily publicly notify its application for resource consent - as is recommended in the Government's "Heritage Policy". So how does this happen?

Well it happens when a government thinks it can get away with it.

But the power of community here was under-estimated. The power of people who expect better.

An artist's impression, commissioned by local residents, of the Erebus Memorial, Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song. Image / supplied
An artist's impression, commissioned by local residents, of the Erebus Memorial, Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song. Image / supplied

What's most galling is that the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage is... the Prime Minister.

This is an issue that goes right to the very top of government.

It shouldn't take public angst, petitions and people power to try to put right something that should never have been handled this badly in the first place.

If the Government had originally done what it said it would do, and consulted properly this would never have happened.

The Erebus families deserve better.