Just before 1pm on November 28, 1979, Air New Zealand flight TE901 slammed into the lower slopes of Mount Erebus while on a sightseeing flight to Antarctica.
All 237 passengers and 20 crew were killed and the crash remains the worst civilian disaster in New Zealand's history. The lives of 257 gone in a breath.
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It's still difficult to get beyond inhaling deeply and taking a moment's silence to reflect every time the word Erebus is mentioned. In some households, the word Erebus, if mentioned at all, is met with solemn looks and sighs of intense grief.
The timeline of events leading up to the crash has long been agreed, although how much emphasis should be placed on each specific decision or action remains hotly argued. Two co-ordinates were changed in the computerised navigation system of the DC-10 aircraft on the morning of the flight; the flight crew were given permission by McMurdo Station to descend to 3050m and proceed "visually"; Captain Jim Collins advised McMurdo at 12.45pm he was dropping further to 610m, not unusual on sightseeing flights in the region; Whiteout conditions meant cloud, ground, sound and mountain would all appear as one.
The flight crew were not where they thought they were and had no way of knowing until the deck altitude siren sounded, six seconds before impact.
Some moments define us as a nation. This is so powerful a moment that Erebus can still cause such intense debate. Chief inspector of aircraft accidents Ron Chippindale stated the captain deciding to drop to a height below the approved level, and continuing at that height when the crew was not sure of the plane's position, was the main cause. On April 27, 1981, Justice Peter Mahon released his report, which placed the blame for the accident on the airline systems which allowed the aircraft to be programmed to fly on the path which led directly to Mt Erebus.
A Herald podcast series in the days leading up to today's anniversary has rejuvenated conversations around where blame should be laid, and in what proportion.
A proposed national memorial - which few would disagree is long overdue - has also become a field of discontent, notably around the Sir Dove-Myer Robinson Park location. In the lead up to recent local elections, the Waitematā Local Board withdrew landowner consent for the memorial, which had earlier been granted to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. A ceremony planned for today to mark the beginning of construction was cancelled. The new Waitematā Local Council will have the opportunity to reconsider when it meets next on Tuesday, December 3.
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But today isn't a time for arguments over whose fault it was, or where we should properly commemorate the names of those who perished. A memorial service will be held at Government House where, assuredly, the contentious issues arisen since the tragedy will rightly be put aside amidst dignified remembrance.
At 12.49pm today, it's time to reflect on the enormity of the disaster and how much we need each other as we endeavour to overcome such losses in a ghastly instant.