Erebus disaster 1979
Where can I find information about the Erebus disaster in 1979?
Entry last updated: 7/07/22
The Erebus disaster is considered New Zealand's worst air accident. On 28 November 1979, Air New Zealand flight TE901 crashed on the slopes of Mount Erebus during a scenic flight over Antarctica, resulting in the deaths of all 257 people on board. Controversy over the official investigation and the cause of the accident continues today.
These sites have lots of facts and information about what happened before, during and after the crash. This includes the investigation after the event, during which first Ron Chippendale and then Judge Mahon tried to figure out why the crash happened.
This site covers all aspects of the Erebus disaster, including the accident, the recovery operation and the first investigation results.
- Go to the Resources tab to find the Resource Library. This has books, documents and websites on the Erebus disaster.
- Try the Investigation tab to read about the results of the investigation in the Chippendale Report and the Mahon Report.
- Look down the page to Latest News and find the article A sense of 'relief' from Erebus families after Jacinda Ardern's heartfelt apology.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. This website is from the New Zealand Airline Pilot's association, so we should be able to trust the information.
NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
- Search using the keywords 'Erebus' to find the Erebus disaster.
- Check the Contents to find out more about the timeline, news on the disaster, the causes and the recovery operation.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg 'Erebus'. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.
Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand is another reliable history website from the Ministry for Culture & Heritage.
- Search for 'Erebus' to bring up articles and pictures.
- Read The 1979 Erebus crash to find information about wreckage recovery, the air accident report and opposing views on what happened.
- Select Images & media to find a selection of pictures taken at the time and other related images.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.
This website is an online showcase of New Zealand television, film and music videos.
- Use the search words 'Erebus' to watch Flight 901 - The Erebus Disaster or Erebus - Operation Overdue.
- These documentaries cover the search and rescue operation and the controversy over the cause of the crash.
Articles and primary sources
Primary sources are things like photos, interviews and other information recorded during an event or soon after by people who were involved.
DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites such as libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once, and has lots of primary sources.
- Try searching for 'Erebus' or 'Erebus disaster'.
- Go to the Images tab to find lots of different pictures related to the Erebus disaster.
- Look under Audio to find sound recordings, like Radio New Zealand journalist John Blumsky's Report from Erebus, given not long after the accident.
- Look under More to explore Articles, Books and Research papers about the disaster.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.
This is one of the EPIC resources, a collection of reliable databases put together for New Zealand school students. You may need a password from your school or local library to access it.
- This site has lots of newspaper and magazine articles and is a good place to explore issues from a New Zealand perspective.
- Try searching for different keywords eg 'Erebus disaster', 'Erebus memorial' or 'Erebus investigation'.
Another EPIC resource, this site has lots of in-depth articles about New Zealand.
- Search for 'Erebus'.
- Find the article called Erebus: the fate of flight 901.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.
Many books have been written about the Erebus disaster - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.
Some recommended titles are:
- Aviation accidents & disasters by John King
- New Zealand's darkest days by Bruce Morris
- Towards the mountain: a story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus by Sarah Myles
- New Zealand's worst disasters: true stories that rocked a nation by Graham Hutchins and Russell Young.
SCIS no: 1845120
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