Two new sites have been pitched for a national Erebus memorial in Auckland, at the Museum of Transport and Technology and in Hillsborough.
The new sites were unveiled today by the Friends of Erebus Memorial Park, which strongly opposes plans by the Ministry for Heritage and Culture to place the memorial in Parnell's Dove-Myer Robinson Park.
The 95sq m structure entitled Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song incorporates a stainless steel walkway projecting out to the horizon on a lawn overlooking Judges Bay at a cost of $3.5 million.
"The design is specific to the site and it is not as if we can just take that design and plonk it somewhere else," the ministry's project leader Brodie Stubbs has previously said.
The ministry's deputy chief executive, delivery group, Tamsin Evans, today said it was committed to the current process to seek approval from the Waitemata Local Board to locate the memorial at Dove-Mayer Robinson Park.
"Our priority is to ensure the Erebus families remain at the centre of our planning," she said.
Jo Malcolm, from Friends of Erebus Memorial Park and a member of an Erebus family, said both conceptual plans create a new park for Auckland, utilise the existing design and no history or heritage is destroyed.
Various resident groups including the Auckland-based Friends group, Parnell Heritage, and Parnell Community Committee have argued the Erebus memorial would be obtrusive to the heavily used public park, and there was no logical or symbolic link between the park and Erebus.
Malcolm said the Motat site would be in a garden setting right beside the Aviation Display Hall, connecting it to the home of aviation history and ensuring the story of Erebus is kept alive.
"We have shared this with Motat. They, like us, see the potential of what it could be," she said.
The Hillsborough site is on unused land owned by KiwiRail at Herd Rd in Hillsborough with breathtaking views to the south and on the flight path of Air New Zealand flight TE901.
On November 28, 1979, the Air New Zealand plane flew into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 passengers and crew. It remains the worst civil accident in New Zealand's history.
The conceptual plans at Hillsborough show the memorial cantilevered above a park-like setting with space for 257 trees.
"Both sites offer an opportunity to create a new destination, uncluttered, quiet, secluded with space for large gatherings and intimate family occasions," Malcolm told the Waitemata Local Board.
She told board members, who have to give final landowner approval for the Parnell site, that the issue had become too negative with some of the Erebus families not favouring Dove-Myer Robinson Park and some not wanting it in Auckland.
"It's time for excitement and optimism. Opportunities to breathe positive energy into the project so it can achieve what it was designed to do. Bring healing and peace for the Erebus families in a much more meaningful way," Malcolm said.
Board member Sarah Trotman was "blown away" by the two options, saying they provided a choice between what the community want and the Erebus families want.
Board chairman Richard Northey said the issue may come back to the board in November or December.
In March, Auckland Council granted resource consent for the memorial without any public notification for submissions and feedback from residents and interested parties.
Auckland has an Erebus memorial at Waikumete Cemetery in West Auckland.
It sits above the graves of 44 people who had not been positively identified or bodies had not been recovered. Their names are inscribed on the memorial and a brass plaque commemorates all those who died.