National | Dame Naida Glavish

Erebus memorial at risk as construction costs rise

Kahurangi Naida Glavish says she, and many others will be thrilled if cost blowouts prevent the erection of an Erebus Memorial planned for Auckland.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage may be forced to rethink the controversial memorial planned for Mataharehare/Taurārua, otherwise known as Dove-Myer Robinson Park in Parnell.

"I te mea i reira kē e kaitiaki, ehara i te porotehē, engari he kaitiaki o te rākau pohutukawa. Āe, ka hari ētahi o te whānau e kīia nei o tērā aituā o Erebus e hari ana. Horekau kē te nuinga e whakaae ana kia whakatū whakapakoko ki runga ki tērā whenua." (We will be happy because we were to protect, not to protest, the pōhutukawa tree. And yes, some of the families of those who died will also be happy. A lot of the families did not want a memorial put on that piece of land.)

She says the Erebus disaster families maintain their desire is to have the memorial placed on Mount Erebus in Antarctica. She says there are up to 27 memorials around the country, and is relieved the actions of those who protested could be successful.

Construction work on the memorial in Parnell, Auckland was due to start in March 2021 but rescheduled to October due to Covid-19 and a group protesting against the memorial occupying the area, blocking access to construction vehicles.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage says the cost to build the memorial has risen by more than $1m due to the delay, from an original estimate of $4.2m to $5.2m.

Despite the setback, it is understood the government remains confident of the memorial being opened in 2022.