Opposition is growing to the design of a national memorial to the Erebus disaster to be placed in a Parnell park - and it's understood lawyers have been consulted.
The memorial, called Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song, incorporates a stainless steel walkway projecting outward to the horizon.
It is to be placed on a lawn in Dove-Myer Robinson Park, also known as the Parnell Rose Gardens, overlooking Judges Bay, with work due to start next month.
But a Parnell family, who lost a loved one in the crash when an Air New Zealand flight collided with Mt Erebus in Antarctica in 1979, killing 257 people, has spoken out against the chosen design, claiming it had been "bulldozed through" without input from locals who use the park every day.
Jo Malcolm, whose father-in-law Alan Stokes was among the victims of the crash, said many locals were very upset.
"From a personal perspective we wanted the memorial in the park because my husband's father died on the plane and we walk past the site every day. I think it would be beautiful, had they chosen the right design.
"But it is the wrong design for this place, and no one has been consulted."
Her family were aware of plans as they developed because of their connection to the disaster but she said locals were not consulted. One resident had involved lawyers.
"There seems to have been some deal done on the site but the community has never been involved and 364 days of the year the park is not about Erebus but about the local community who walk there."
Malcolm's concerns come on top of opposition to the design from Parnell Heritage.
The Herald reported in July that the group was opposed and believed the chosen design was better suited to a clifftop 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," the group said in a letter to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.
Malcolm, the daughter of former cabinet minister Aussie Malcolm and Auckland councillor Astrid Malcolm, said three large palm trees would be removed for the memorial and she was concerned about the impact on an historic pōhutukawa tree.
She described the failure to consult with locals as "just unfair". Her family felt supported by their neighbours but said it was clear to her they did not want this particular memorial.
Malcolm preferred another design that featured steps and a pond. "It is low to the ground, it doesn't take away from the view and I think my community would have embraced it."
Alan Stokes was a graphic artist who designed the menus and advertising material for the Antarctic flights and was given a seat on the plane as a thank-you for his work.
"It's the opposite of winning Lotto. There is a lot of hurt with Erebus, a lot of pain."
Malcolm said having the memorial in the park where they walk their dogs daily would be difficult for them. It will be eight metres at its highest point.
"It literally takes off and then drops. It couldn't be more in your face if it tried. It's the wrong monument.
"It is meant to heal … but it feels like it is being bulldozed through because someone wants a photo shoot."
The panel that selected the design included representatives from two Erebus families. Malcolm said her request to talk to the panel was not taken up, despite her "unique" connections. "We know the park, we know the locals and we are [Erebus] family members."
In correspondence with Malcolm, the ministry's manager for memorials and taonga, Brodie Stubbs, said that heritage trees would be protected and that an independent arborist and one from Auckland Council were involved.
After Waitematā Local Board approved the site last year, "it was subject to a rigorous design process led by the Ministry, including a review by the Auckland Urban Design Panel, which would ensure that the final design speaks to the heritage and cultural values of the site".
"Once the memorial is complete the clearing will still be utilised much as it is now for picnicking, and as a place of respite and contemplation, whilst also allowing for gatherings such as on the Erebus anniversary date," Stubbs wrote.
There was no opportunity to consider a different design.