English on Pike River video

Bill English has responded to questions raised over the release of the video showing a robot getting 1.5 km into the Pike River mine.

RNZ: PM: No Pike River re-entry despite footage

Families of the 29 miners who remains have been trapped in the mine since it exploded in 2010 say this proves what they have always known – that re-entry is possible.

Re-entry has always been possible, the safety and need is what has been at issue.

The footage, released by Newshub, shows the workers – who were wearing breathing gear – inside the drift of the mine, three months after the final explosion.

What Newshub showed was misleading. The robot video was shown 1.5 km inside the mine entry shaft, but the workers were near the mine entrance (in the first 100 metres).

But speaking to Morning Report, Prime Minister Bill English said he would not reconsider entering the Pike River mine, despite the new footage.

On the face of it, the footage did not change anything about the assessment of the safety of the area, he said.

He said the video footage was available to the people who did a safety assessment for Solid Energy.

“The assessment has to be made by the people who are in control of the workplace and the employees.

“It’s their judgment in the end about whether it is safe because if people go in there and they die because of an explosion it is absolutely clear who would be responsible,” he said.

He said he told the families in January that politicans were not the ones who could make the decision about whether to send anyone in.

News media shouldn’t be making or forcing decisions either.

Police also said that the people in the video were not in the drift, but were actually in the portal, Mr English said.

“I’m sure the experts and the police will be able to work through what it means or doesn’t mean.

“We are working with the familes on the un-manned entry.”

Two robots have been taken into the mine and both failed, so another robot attempt has obvious risks of failure.


  1. Gezza

     /  1st May 2017

    The footage should have been released long ago, when other footage from a stranded robot was. And the explanation about the workers being in the mine entrance should have been given then.

    • I agree that all video footage should have been advised of and made available at lest to the Royal Commission, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t have been made public. From what I’ve seen it doesn’t change much, apart from leaving things open to yet more accusations.

      • Gezza

         /  1st May 2017

        Gower & co are certainly sensationalising the issue. They quoted Bill English yesterday as saying the mine atmosphere was now 100% methane & so the risk of explosion was too high for re-entry. There has to be oxygen present for an explosion, so this is not correct, although I expect any re-entry would potentially reintroduce oxygen into the shaft, or that in fact oxygen is still present in some quantities.

        If this was an item of interest to Aljaz tv, by now they would have one or more mine experts commenting on the reported atmospheric situation inside the mine, the possibilities of recovery options, & risks, each time it got a mention in their news bulletins. 1Ewes is usually just as bad with sensationalising this sort of stuff. Our tv news is crud.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  1st May 2017

          It’s an old story and 3 were very irresponsible to drag it up again. The fact that two men were in the entry proves nothing. Patrick Gower was wetting himself with glee at causing trouble for the government-he really is a nasty git. He’s nasty in person, too, really full of himself and looking as if he thinks that he’s cleverer than everyone else.

  2. George

     /  1st May 2017

    The compliant media lies again.
    Seal the mine.
    Be done with it

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  1st May 2017

      They weren’t actually lying, just stirring things up to make a sensational story out of nothing much.

      Seal the mine-make that the miners’ tomb and have a monument to say so. It was a hideous tragedy and all this stirring is doing nothing to lessen it.

  3. duperez

     /  1st May 2017

    Hearing politicians robotically manoeuvre and answer questions into manageable forms was another interesting aspect of course.

  4. The men who where down there are long gone. Their remains where burnt and turned to ashes.

    This constant picking of the scab is unnecessary and being driven for weird political purposes by people who call shame on others constantly, but should be themselves ashamed of toying with the dead mens families emotions. I’m looking at you Labour and NZ First.

    English is only playing the game of sending a robot in because of the sick media promoting this story in an election year. There is nothing to find…but burnt ashes. Turn the mine in to a memorial and move on.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  1st May 2017

      He didn’t say that one WOULD be, did he ? I thought that there would be another investigation….he’d be damned either way. Spend a lot of money sending one in and prove that there’s nothing left that could be identified, be accused of giving in to the press and emotive manipulation. Do nothing, be accused of callousness and give a gift to people like Andrew Little and Bernie Monk. Bernie Monk must know what the chances of finding ‘bodies’ are. I know that he lost a son, and I can’t imagine that pain, but he seems to be exploiting the situation for all it’s worth.

      I can honestly say that if I had lost someone there, I’d want the mine sealed, a monument and tribute put in front and no more time and money spent on an exercise in fultility. The grief will never heal, it can’t, but this is just probing the wound and never letting it grow over.

      Put the money to some better cause like ambulances.

  5. John Schmidt

     /  1st May 2017

    How is it that a TV company edits a video to misrepresent the truth that then gives false hopes to the families and leads to opposition parties wanting to ignore the very H&S regulations that they played a part in, the very regulations that they said did not go far enough. What a crock of shit.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  1st May 2017

      Yes-Labour is very keen on workplace safety, or purports to be. That obvious point hadn’t occurred to me-thank you for that reminder. I remember when they produced some staggering number for workplace deaths….it sounded far less impressive when we learned that they included people having heart attacks that they happened to have in a workplace, an old woman who fell down some steps at a plant nursery, broke a bone and died some time later and a fool who ignored the warning/stop lights (and you know how huge they are) at roadworks-this was words written in lights kind-raced on and ploughed into a heavy earth mover or something like that. I would class workplace deaths as deaths of the people who worked there and died because of something to do with that, not someone crashing into a vehicle used by a worker or a very old person falling on steps.

      Didn’t they also want the pavements to count as workplaces if someone had to walk along them as part of their work ? The employer would have had to check these and make sure that they were safe and had nothing to trip over and been liable if someone tripped on a loose paver.

      • patupaiarehe

         /  1st May 2017

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  2nd May 2017

          Ho ho ho.

          Wasn’t some unlucky employer fined because a woman worker went to a male worker’s house, had a few drinks, and then had a pass made at her ?

  6. Kitty Catkin

     /  2nd May 2017

    I was once quite a few km away when there was an explosion in a mine, and even at that distance the force was considerable-the air seemed to be pulled backwards (that’s as near as I can get to describing it) Everything shook. If anyone had been in there, the force would probably have killed them if nothing else did.