6 Mar 2020

No public submissions on Erebus memorial consent

2:40 pm on 6 March 2020

In a blow to those opposing the construction of a national Erebus memorial in a Parnell park, consent for the project will be non-notified, Auckland Council has advised.

This means the resource consent process will not be open to submissions from members of the public.

Proposed Erebus memorial design

Proposed Erebus memorial design Photo: Ministry of Culture and Heritage

An independent commissioner has determined that no one will be adversely affected by the construction of the memorial, which will recognise the 257 people who died in New Zealand's worst peacetime disaster.

The report, by independent urban planning and design consultant Ian Munro, has determined the proposed structure will be modest when taken in the context of the park as a whole.

The proposed memorial is 175m2 including structures and pathways, within the 55,669m2 reserve.

Munro found that the proposed structure would "provide for additional recreation activities within the reserve, including by providing a vantage point for views over the harbour", was "sited well away from any sensitive receiver or neighbour", and would not "visually dominate" the reserve.

"The use of the reserve to accommodate memorials or artworks is not unusual, and the existence of a number of such installations within the wider reserve is noteworthy", the report reads.

"Because of all of the above, the introduction of this new memorial would not adversely detract from the existing character and amenity values of the park, or the wellbeing benefits it provides the community (including regular reserve users), in a way that would be beyond minor."

Waitematā Local Board chair Richard Northey did not respond to request for comment from RNZ when contacted yesterday.

But in a statement released this morning, Northey said he was disappointed with the commissioner's decision.

"Given the high level of interest in this project we had formally requested the community be given the opportunity to provide feedback by publicly notifying the application."

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is leading the project to construct the memorial.

Project lead Brodie Stubbs told RNZ the Ministry believed the decision to not-notify consent "reflects the thorough design process and planning approach followed for this project".

The independent commissioner is yet to make a decision on the resource consent itself.

Resource consent is one of three consents and approvals which the Ministry must obtain before the construction of the Memorial can get underway.

The others are an archaeological authority from Heritage New Zealand and approval from Waitematā Local Board, who are the landowners of the proposed site, Dove-Myer Robinson Park.

In the statement, local board chair Richard Northey says a landowner consent application for the memorial hasn't been received by the board.

He said if an application is received, the local board will need to consider all the information available to it, including this decision and feedback from the community during its own consultation process last year regarding the impacts the memorial would have on the park.

Late last year, Parnell residents opposed to the placement of the memorial told RNZ they thought the structure would ruin the park.

READ MORE 'Nimbys' oppose Erebus park memorial: 'You don't drink a glass of wine next to a grave'

On 28 November 1979, Air New Zealand flight TE901 crashed into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all on board.

The Erebus national memorial would recognise those killed and those involved in efforts to recover the bodies of the dead, in harrowing antarctic conditions.