On November 28, 1979, an Air New Zealand jet took off from Auckland Airport on a sightseeing trip to Antarctica.
There were 257 people on board. Hours later everyone was dead.
Somehow, the plane had flown directly into the Erebus volcano. This was a disaster that shattered a country's psyche.
In the decades since, grief gave way to blame, anger and recrimination. Who was responsible for so many deaths? Was there a cover-up? How could a plane just fly into a mountain?
To mark the 40th anniversary of the disaster, Michael Wright and Katy Gosset explore why New Zealand's deadliest disaster was also its most controversial; why a nation was incapable of moving on; and how it was captured by one famous phrase: 'an orchestrated litany of lies'.
White Silence will be released daily from November 8, 2019.
Stuff presents Collapse, a major new podcast series: On February 22 2011 a devastating earthquake shook Christchurch, killing 185. One hundred and fifteen of those people were in the CTV building - a building that should never have been built.
Episode Eight - The Apology
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to White Silence about her decision to say sorry to the families of the Erebus victims: "It all built a picture for me of unfinished business, and that wasn't right."
Episode Seven - Playing Through
A special bonus episode of White Silence for November 28 - the anniversary of the Erebus disaster. Bringing together stories from listeners like Air NZ staff who had to work through the tragedy, a teenager's 40-year trauma finally brought to a close and an unlikely golf tournament played in the shadow of Erebus.
Episode Six - White Silence
40 years after the Erebus disaster, there is still no national memorial to the victims and no consensus on exactly what happened that day in 1979. Why has New Zealand been so hopelessly unable to deal with its worst-ever disaster?
Episode Five - New World Order
In 1981, New Zealand was changing. The baby boomers had come of age, and the South African rugby tour was about to tear the country apart. When the Mahon report landed right in the middle of this, the country was ready for its first big conspiracy theory.
Episode Four - The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock
'An orchestrated litany of lies' is ingrained into New Zealand's collective consciousness. Justice Peter Mahon didn't have to say that, but he did. It would prove the making of him, and the ruin.
I was a 15 year old English boy, living in NZ with my parents throughout 1979. We lived on the flight path of Christchurch airport and that fateful night, awaited hearing ‘the missing aircraft’ flying over us. Of course it never came.
I have waited 40 years to hear this full and frank story. Thank you for bringing it to us.
More than meets the eye
An exceptionally well researched and documented exploration into the worst disaster in New Zealand’s history. Shocking and emotional for all who lost their lives. The production is great and we really appreciate the effort put into this podcast. Look forward to future projects.
A very interesting podcast. Well worth listening to.