Finding the Way

June 9 2021

"On a white field, a dark feather,
soon effaced by snow.

Memory and after-image,
reflecting to infinity

the ones who wait,
who seek and grieve,

the lost without return,
the all together gone.

way points of sorrow.

In deep time
the mountain adamant:

It is as it is.
Erebus, lodestone of 257 hearts."

WAYPOINT by Cilla McQueen 2019

Entering design competitions is always its own reward. Such was the case with our submission for the National Erebus Memorial, a project facilitated by Manatū Taonga, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Even though RTA Studio was not ultimately selected to deliver this significant piece of work, we were proud to have made the shortlist. It was a privilege to have the memorial project as a consciousness catalyst which spurred us to think deeply about an event that affected the nation and how to capture what it means in the built form. Not only that, but it gave the team at RTA Studio an opportunity to collaborate with creative talents from outside the architectural arena.

Our concept, designed for a location in the Parnell Rose Gardens, involved two parts: one, a tilted monolithic form with a wall of names – a dedication to those lost in the disaster – and a surface that reflects the sky; the other a terrace, cut into the ground with a cloaking wall to provide much-needed buffer to the traffic noise making it a place for contemplation.

Wraight Associates, who are artists in landscape design, helped us to meld the memorial with the wider environment using planting and seating terraces and we asked one-time New Zealand poet laureate Cilla McQueen to pen us a verse to be etched on the top of the memorial, forever looking to the heavens. She called it Way Point.