Integrity, courage and compassion marked Erebus cop’s life


Integrity, courage and compassion marked the life of the policeman whose courageous testimony at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Erebus Disaster altered the view of the presiding judge.

It led Justice Peter Mahon to describe the testimony of others as an “orchestrated litany of lies”.

Retired Inspector Greg Gilpin (pictured) died on November 26, 2021 and was buried December 4, from Our Lady of Kapiti Church, Paraparaumu. He was aged 75.

In 1979 the then Sergeant Gilpin was in charge of recovering the bodies of the 257 people killed when Air New Zealand TE901 flew into Mt Erebus, Antarctica.

In a highly politically charged environment it was Gilpin’s courageous testimony that helped establish the truth about the infamous fatal flight.

While an earlier report into the crash concluded the crew were to blame, Mahon concluded the crash was caused by the reprogramming of the aircraft’s navigation computer.

Gilpin, however, had found the captain’s logbook. He testified part of the logbook subsequently went missing under suspicious circumstances.

The log book’s missing section exonerated Captain Jim Collins from fault.

The circumstances surrounding the missing sections of the book remain unexplained to this day.

In November 2011, when he retired, Gilpin expressed regret that he had not held on to the logbook.

At his retirement, then Air New Zealand boss, Rob Fyfe paid tribute to Gilpin.

“I wanted to pass on my very best wishes for your future,” Fyfe said.

“You have carried a heavy burden as a result of your association with Erebus, but have always acted with integrity, professionalism and compassion throughout the subsequent years.”

Collin’s widow, Maria also paid tribute to Gilpin.

“Thank God for a professionally committed policeman,” she said.

“Integrity is Greg’s passport,” said Fr Phil Cody SM at Gilpin’s Funeral Mass.

Cody said Gilpin exemplified the mark of the complete Police officer. “He did what is right with integrity; he did what is right with heart.”

In his last years Gilpin worked hard to get the National Memorial to the Erebus victims established. He endeavoured to explain to protesters why such a memorial is needed.

In 2005 Gilpin became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2007 he with others was given the Erebus medal.

Gilpin’s 46 years in the Police included big events in New Zealand history such as the Springbok Tour, helping Wahine disaster survivors and the Mikhail Lermontov sinking.

Gilpin’s wife Vivienne, also spoke at his funeral as her husband had requested her to do.

She had told him she would not be making a saint of him! “However, he loved me, was my fix-it person, my sparring partner and we loved each other”.


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News category: New Zealand.

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