National | Matariki

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei acknowledges victims of Erebus tragedy

This morning, at Takaparawhau or Bastian Point, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei acknowledged the more than 200 people who died in the Erebus tragedy 40 years ago.

During the Hautapu ceremony, seven victims of the tragic event were named. Their family members were present at the ceremony and expressed gratitude to the chair of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Marama Royal, for the sentiment.

"They said they felt lighter because it's not often that they've had the names of their loved ones read out," she said.

On November 28, 1979, a sightseeing aircraft carrying 257 people crashed head-on into the side of the volcano Erebus in Antarctica, leaving no survivors.

Debate raged over who was at fault for the accident. While the chief inspector of air accidents attributed the disaster to pilot error, Justice Peter Mahon's Royal Commission of Inquiry placed the blame on Air New Zealand and its systems. The controversy continues.

More than 2,000 people attended the Matariki event this morning, with most of them arriving by 5 am. Politicians from various parties were there including Christopher Luxon, Marama Davidson and Carmel Sepuloni.

"It was actually my first time," Luxon said.

"I really enjoyed the whole thing. I thought the oratory was impressive by these young people, and just the way it was explained and celebrated, and just the way that people are embracing it - I think it's absolutely fantastic."

Davidson said, "This is the vision that tauiwi here in New Zealand should aspire to, to understand that we are about bringing people together, not dividing people."

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei spokesperson Te Kurataiaho Kapea said Ngāti Whātua was more than capable of hosting events like this for many years to come: "everything when it comes to the culture and tikanga of this city, Ngāti Whātua's whenua."