Maria Collins and her four daughters have seen human nature at its best and worst.
Twenty-five years ago, they lost husband and father Jim Collins in an air crash at the frozen end of the world.
Friends and workmates of Captain Collins helped them weather taunts at school and deal with a burglary in which a bedside photo of him was torn in half.
Pilot colleagues pitched in to finish a fence and deck he had started building as Mrs Collins faced raising a family of girls - aged 6 to 15 - without a husband but with a mountain of support from well-wishers.
But although thousands of others also lost loved ones on November 28, 1979, when an Air New Zealand flight slammed into the slopes of the volcano Mt Erebus - named after the gateway to the underworld of Greek mythology - the Collins family bore an extra burden of grief.
For they felt saddened that a Government-owned airline sent their husband and father to Antarctica, then blamed him for his own death and those of 256 others while allegedly covering up its own failings.
"If someone dies it's a tragedy, but if their integrity is questioned as well, it's much worse," says the eldest Collins daughter, Kathryn Carter, now 40 and with four children of her own.
"I suppose it's always easier to blame people who are dead, and I think it put a question mark over the integrity of the airline itself."
Elizabeth Collins, 39, remembers her father as a stickler for safety, a man who never let his children into the family runabout boat without emergency drills and equipment checks.
"Considering the airline sent to Antarctica only its most experienced pilots, to then call their integrity into question was particularly surprising," she said.
Although Justice Peter Mahon found that her father and co-pilot Greg Cassin did nothing to cause the crash, the Muldoon Government refused to accept the report it commissioned from the judge, and the document was not tabled in Parliament until 1999.
By then, the Collins girls had all become strong and independent adults, "scarred but not damaged", in their mother's assessment.
But immediately after the Erebus disaster, they had to face the curiosity of a stunned nation, and even unthinking cruelty within their own circles.
"One of the first things a friend at school said in a matter-of-fact tone was `Sorry about what's happened, but it was his fault'," recalls Philippa Collins, who was 9 at the time and is now a 34-year-old business development manager for a multinational professional services firm.
But the girls and Mrs Collins remained confident in the abilities of a man they remember for a "schoolboy's love of flying", who would always turn his head skyward if a plane flew overhead while he was in the garden or in the well-ordered workshop where he passed on practical tips to his daughters.
Erebus has become embedded in New Zealand's psyche. It was the world's fourth worst aviation disaster at the time, its horror magnified by the stark and remote setting and the unbelievably unlucky set of circumstances that led to it.
Captain Collins was one of Air New Zealand's most seasoned pilots, aged 45 and a 20-year veteran with the airline, when he flew a DC10 packed with day-tripping sightseers into Mt Erebus in an optical illusion called a sector whiteout.
This is a particularly insidious form of polar visual trickery in which observers can see contrast in all directions except one and so have little or no chance of realising their predicament.
The tall and lean aviator had a reputation throughout the airline as a meticulous flight commander who took seriously his responsibilities to crews and passengers.
He also knew the inner workings of aircraft, having trained as an airframe mechanic in the Air Force before moving into the cockpit at 42 Squadron in Whenuapai.
Says Kathryn, now an architect and artist newly elected to the Hobson Bay Community Board: "Dad knew aeroplanes backwards - he wasn't just sitting there pushing buttons."
And he had shown a cool head in a crisis.
Two years before Erebus, he calmly dumped fuel and returned his 213 passengers and 14 crew safely to Los Angeles after lightning tore fuselage panels off a DC10 he was flying to Auckland.
He shrugged off praise with the remark: "As long as you have wings and engines, you can stay in the air and handle most problems."
Air New Zealand picked only its most senior pilots to fly to Antarctica.
Jim Collins was looking forward to an 8000km return day-trip with a plane of eager passengers, most of whom had paid $349 for the treat of a lifetime.
They had been lured by advertisements of penguins gazing skyward and promising: "Antarctica. The ultimate day trip." Some had won free trips.
The night before takeoff, at the cheery hillside family home in Auckland where Mrs Collins still lives, he showed Kathryn and Elizabeth his prepared route on maps spread over the dining-room table and floor.
He had already said what turned out to be his last good-night to Philippa and his youngest, 6-year-old Adrienne, who were in bed.
But Elizabeth, then 14, and Kathryn, 15 and studying for a School Certificate science exam she sat and passed the day after the disaster, were keen to know about his next adventure - even if that entailed getting one of his famous "lectures".
Their later testimony to Justice Mahon helped satisfy the judge that the maps showed an intended route down the middle of McMurdo Sound, clear of any high ground before the DC10 was to pass over Scott Base and return to New Zealand.
"Whenever Dad was enthusiastic about something he would tell us every detail," recalls Elizabeth, an arts and business manager.
"We asked him not to give us a lecture and he said that if we didn't want to listen we couldn't expect to learn - so we listened and learned about where he would be flying tomorrow."
Mrs Collins, a graduate biochemist and marriage guidance counsellor who arrived in New Zealand with her parents as a 3-year-old refugee from Vienna in 1939, says her husband had to obtain his own maps to plot co-ordinates given at a briefing 19 days earlier.
A map which Air New Zealand supplied was of such a small scale that Ross Island, on which Erebus looms above McMurdo in real life, appeared as little more than a dot.
As it turned out, and despite an initial denial by Air New Zealand, navigation staff in Auckland changed the co-ordinates hours before the flight.
By some incredible oversight the crew was not told this before keying them into the DC10's navigation computer.
Captain Collins did not know that the computerised navigation track would now take him 43.5km (or two degrees and 10 seconds) east of the sound, to point him and his human payload at Erebus.
Soon after the tragedy, Air New Zealand was backed by a report of then chief air accidents inspector Ron Chippindale, who said pilot error was the "probable cause", as the DC10 would have flown well clear of the 3795m mountain if it had stayed above a minimum safe altitude of 16,000ft (4876m).
It hit the foot of the mountain at 447m .
But Justice Mahon found that the airline had told all its pilots to fly low, weather permitting, to support its aggressive marketing of sightseeing flights, including a mailout to a million households praising great views of Scott Base.
As the country prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of the Erebus crash on Sunday, Mrs Collins feels fully vindicated by Parliament's acceptance of the Mahon report, which National MP and former Air New Zealand corporate planner Maurice Williamson tabled when he was Minister of Transport.
Mr Williamson regards the day he tabled the report in Parliament as an official record in the presence of the widows of both pilots and of Justice Mahon as one of the two highest points of his political career.
Although the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council ruled that Justice Mahon overstepped himself in saying he had to listen to "an orchestrated litany of lies" during his inquiry, Mrs Collins says his conclusions about the crash cause were never over-ruled.
But Kathryn retains a sense of injustice, calling on the airline or the Government to state that they "believe strongly in the crew who were flying the plane that day and who went to Antarctica with no intention of dying."
She remains stung by the memory of seeing her father's personal effects, including his toilet bag and wedding ring, returned to the family in a cleansack.
"I remember thinking, this represents a life ... one minute he's alive and suddenly he vanishes and his gear comes back in a rubbish bag and we were left to deal with it."
Maria Collins and her four daughters have seen human nature at its best and worst.