Story: Commissions of inquiry

The Erebus disaster

In November 1979, 257 people died when an Air New Zealand DC-10 crashed into the slopes of Mt Erebus, Antarctica. The official air accident report found that the pilots had been flying too low in 'white-out' conditions. However, a royal commission of inquiry by High Court Judge Peter Mahon reached a different conclusion. It found that the flight path coordinates had been changed by the airline without informing the pilots, so they were unaware that they were flying directly towards Mt Erebus. Mahon also claimed that the airline had misled the inquiry with 'an orchestrated litany of lies'. The Court of Appeal subsequently decided Mahon had exceeded his terms of reference, and this judgement was upheld. Nevertheless, his report was supported by many people.

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How to cite this page:

Alan Simpson, 'Commissions of inquiry - Commissions over time', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 17 May 2022)

Story by Alan Simpson, published 20 Jun 2012