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College of Creative Arts staff contribute to National Erebus Memorial Design

An artist's impression of Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song.

One of the 257 stainless steel snowflakes.


Senior lecturer, designer and artist Jason O’Hara and senior lecturer and musician Warren Maxwell are a part of a team whose design has been selected for the National Erebus Memorial.

Te Paerangi Ataata - Sky Song by Wellington firm Studio Pacific Architecture, jointly with Mr O’Hara of the School ofDesign and Mr Maxwell of the School of Music and Creative Media Production, was announced as the winning design in a competitive selection process by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday.

The design includes a walkway projecting outward to the horizon above Taurarua Judge’s Bay and reflects its setting through its mirror-like finish. The memorial is linked to Antarctica by form and colour and a listening place, where the sounds of Antarctica resonate from the Ice Wall. 

Ms Ardern says, “The design reflects the enormity of the tragedy and provides a strong sense of connection and loss.The design has a strong narrative to engage visitors and provides a sanctuary within its walls, evoking the great emptiness experienced for those who lost their lives.”

Mr O’Hara says it’s a great honour to contribute to the making of a special place of remembrance. 

“The process has been an absolute pleasure – an exemplar of various creative disciplines coming together to collaborate to create something with a multi-layered narrative and experience.  From the very beginning we set out to create something that celebrates the spirit of the passengers and crew, rather than the event that took their lives,” he says.

“One aspect that I am personally pleased with is the plan to create 257 stainless steel snowflakes, which will be cut out and given to the families, connecting them to the site and providing a symbolic keepsake that can be passed on to others. Each of the snowflakes is unique being digitally ‘grown’ using an algorithm that uses the name of each of those that lost their lives as a ‘seed’.”

Mr Maxwell says, “Like Jason, I am also extremely honoured and excited to be part of this dedicated whānau of incredibly talented creatives who have come together to commemorate both the tragedy and the adventurous spirit of the lives lost on Erebus. From the very first creative meetings, there has been collective acknowledgement around the responsibility that comes with this project and I believe we’ll be successfully guided by this gravitas.”

Mr O’Hara says the pair’s experiences in Antarctica helped inform the design.

“Warren and I have developed a strong relationship with Antarctica since we went to Scott Base on the Antarctica New Zealand Community Engagement Programme in 2016. To be able to use our experience to help the families connect with Antarctica, the event and their loved ones is a great joy for us.”

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