The following personal accounts are from members of the recovery team, who in 1979, were members of the NZ Police Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team. They do not represent the views of any other organisation such as the NZ Police or NZALPA; they are their own personal accounts from the ice.


Police Inspector Gilpin's Account

Inspector Gilpin is one of the officers who led the body recovery operation on Mt Erebus in 1979. He is still a serving officer in his 45th year of policing. Other major disasters he worked on over the years included the sinking of the interisland ferry Wahine in Wellington Harbour (1968); the Sprott house fire, Wellington (1969); - and the sinking of the Russian cruise liner Mikhail Lermontov in the Malborough Sounds (1986).

Police Inspector Leighton's Account

At the time of the crash, Inspector Leighton was a 22 year old Constable who was the youngest member of the recovery team. He is still a serving officer in his 35th year of service having worked in the Wellington, Royal NZ Police College, Waikato and Canterbury police districts.

Ray Goldring's Account

Ray Goldring is a mountaineering expert who was deployed to the crash site at Erebus to assist the Police and accident investigators throughout ‘Operation Overdue’. Before Erebus he was stationed in Antarctica as the Field Safety Leader for the NZ Antarctic Research Programme (NZARP).


A study conducted on members of the recovery team by Taylor and Frazer in 1981 examined the “psychological effects of stress arising from body recovery and victim identification”. The study was undertaken with the support of the New Zealand police and other organisations whose staff had taken part in the recovery operation.

Read More About The Study