Story from newshub.co.nz. Author: James Fyfe. Published: 09.00, Nov 28 2019
The family member of a victim of the Erebus crash says the disaster has been officially neglected for too long.
Today marks 40 years since the fateful day where 257 people lost their lives, in the worst civil accident in the country's history.
Flight TE901 left Auckland on a sightseeing trip to Antarctica on this day in 1979. But at 12:49pm the plane crashed into Mt Erebus, killing all passengers and crew.
Phil Stewart, whose aunt Dawn Matthews died in the incident, says when he sees how the country has dealt with and remembered other disasters since - such as Pike River or the Christchurch earthquakes - he feels Erebus hasn't been properly commemorated by the Government.
"I think it really makes us reflect on how much neglect there has been to remembering the losses from Erebus," Stewart told The AM Show on Thursday morning. "So hopefully that's going to change."
He says the loss of this aunt really hit the family hard.
"She was very much part of our family," he said. "She was probably a lot closer than your average aunt."
After three years of consultation with the victims, the Parnell Rose Garden was recently named as the site of a planned memorial for the disaster.
The location has caused controversy with locals, however, who say it would destroy the ambience of the park.
But Stewart says he is confident the right site has been chosen.
"I don't think there'll ever be total agreement on what the appropriate place is, but I think the families are generally pretty happy with the process that went to picking the Parnell Rose Garden and I think Auckland's an appropriate place because it's probably where more families than anywhere else would be close to there."
As well as honouring the victims, it's important to pay tribute to those who went to deal with the crash.
"I think another thing that people need to remember too is not only the bereaved, the families like mine, but also the people who went down there to deal with the disaster and recover the bodies. Those people were amazing."
Also important, says Stewart, is the need to acknowledge that there were people from other countries on the flight.
"It was a New Zealand disaster but there were a lot of people from Japan, China and so on who would be feeling a lot of grief as well.
"I hope that they're included in this process too, I think it's really important."