What should a memorial look like for a National Disaster? I was thinking about this after I saw that a competition had been run to attract preliminary concept drawings for a $3000000 memorial to all the people who died on Mount Erebus in Antartica. On this active volcano is where 257 people lost their lives when Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed, due to whiteout conditions, on the 28 November 1979.
I think we have a wonderful range of highly competent sculptors in New Zealand who would be able to take on this task. However, if I was a relative of someone who died on that plane what would give me comfort? Certainly the location of the sculpture on a hill overlooking the Waitemata Harbour is a quiet, contemplative space but what materials would one use? Could one use wood, precast concrete, cast rust iron or stainless steel? Should the memorial reflect a Christian or Maori or an aeronautical element? All those conundrums will require quite a bit of research and consultation with the relatives of the victims. Suffice to say that the current Government has put a reasonable amount towards realizing this project which is of great significance to a number of New Zealanders.