As I’ve written before, Jacinda Ardern desperately needs a new speech-writer. A half page New Zealand Herald article attributed to her about the Erebus tragedy 40 years back, when the majority of Kiwis weren’t born, was mushily platitudinous and silly. Presumably it was written by a speech-writer, as is customary.

Once again we copped this “discussion” nonsense. There was also the screamingly wrong assertion that “everyone knew someone” (who died), ridiculous for this reason, which after 4 decades I now diplomatically can say.

As it happened I’d spent the previous 2 days in Auckland with one of the Erebus air hostesses. On the morning of the flight, a Sunday if I recall rightly, she was flat out on the phone calling other hostesses to take her place, she being selected for the trip. That apparently was common-place practice then and may still be.  As she explained, the girls all helped one another out in this way and usually had no difficulty getting a stand-in. But not with the Antarctic trips. They’d already developed a reputation for their tedium, based solely on the odd-balls who bought into them. All the hostesses knew that and didn’t want a bar of them. So my friend had to go.

When the passenger list was duly published it was a common talking point that so many Kiwis could all be so unknown, the renown mountaineer Mulgrew, there in a host capacity excepted.

Down in Queenstown or Dunedin (I can’t recall) earlier this year I experienced further confirmation of this. Why? Because parked near our jet I watched some very strange looking line-dancing types queuing to get on a plane. “Off to the Antarctic,” the ground crew chaps told me. I recounted the above Erebus story and they confirmed it’s still true today.


Yes…spare us the banal, Ardern, and give us something fresh & soaring. And not just for rememberance moments.

Last Wednesday on my 81st birthday I was having lunch with some old school friends when one of them Tonci Marinovic told me that his wife was an ANZ air hostess and had lost her life on that flight. Tonci at the time was a pilot for ANZ. The last body found was that of his wife. Made what should have been a happy occasion, was one tinged with sadness.

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