Little softening on Pike River re-entry

The reality of Government responsibility may have set in as Andrew Little commits to a decision on re-entry of the Pike River mine, but he won’t commit to re-entry, citing safety is a priority.

NZH –  Andrew Little: No ‘absolute guarantee’ of Pike River Mine re-entry

Pike River Mine minister Andrew Little says he cannot guarantee a re-entry of the mine and has told family members that he will do what he can but safety is the top priority.

Little will take his proposals for the membership and structure of the Pike River Re-Entry Agency to Cabinet on Monday after commemorating the seventh anniversary of the disaster at Pike River tomorrow.

Those plans include another risk assessment to decide whether a manned re-entry is possible.

“When we get to the point where we’ve done the planning, done the risk assessment and we’re at the point where we make a decision yes or no, they will be part of that decision.

And in the end there can be no absolute guarantee. But what we can guarantee is that we’ll do the job properly, plan, prepare and assess and they will be involved every step of the way.”

He said that would involve assessing whether any risks could be mitigated and on the advice he had seen so far, that was likely.

“Ultimately, and the families are very clear, the first principle of the set of principles that are governing what we do is safety, the safety of anybody involved in the re-entry project. I’m not going to put anybody at undue risk. I’m simply not going to.”

This seems to be a less certain stance.

As Labour leader, Little had promised a manned re-entry to the drift of the mine to look for the remains of any of the 29 miners who died in the November 2010 explosions and any evidence.


In January:  Labour leader Andrew Little makes Pike River re-entry bill an election promise

Labour leader Andrew Little has promised to table a bill in Parliament to help re-entry to the Pike River mine drift.

A Labour Government would get the families’ experts and Solid Energy’s experts together with the aim of coming up with a plan for re-entry, he said.

“The only excuse the Government has given so far for not helping the families get re-entry to the drift of the mine is they are concerned about liability of the directors. Well, we can fix that through legislation.”

In December 2016: Winston Peters says Pike River re-entry is bottom line to election deals

Winston Peters says re-entering Pike River mine is a “bottom line” to any election deal made next year.

On Tuesday evening said Peters was so confident in the expert plan and as “someone with some experience” in working underground, he would have no problem entering the mine drift.

In interviews this morning, Peters also reiterated his claim that he will enter the mine himself.

“I’m making no bones about it, we’ll give these people a fair-go, and yes this is a bottom line, and it shouldn’t have to be,” he said on TV’s Paul Henry show on Wednesday morning.

In May 2017: : Huge Cover-up Over Pike River Mine Re-Entry

There is no doubt that there has been a huge cover up by authorities after the Pike River explosion that killed 29 men, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“All along the police and the government have maintained it was not safe for anyone to enter the tunnel.


“The fact is this evidence proves that it is safe for a search party to go in,” says Mr Peters.

In August: Cross-party agreement pledges a reentry of Pike River Mine

Jacinda Ardern says a Labour Government would reenter the Pike River Mine.

“The Pike River disaster was unacceptable. Twenty-nine people shouldn’t die at work in New Zealand, nor should even one person lose their life while earning a living,” Ardern said in a press release on Tuesday.

“It’s unacceptable that the families don’t have answers seven years later. More and more footage is coming out suggesting we haven’t been told the full story.

“Re-entering the drift will mean we can recover some of the men, and evidence of the cause of the explosions. That will help deliver justice and answers, and bring the men home to their families.”

In September:  Jacinda Ardern visits Pike River, reiterates recovery pledge

Jacinda Ardern has reiterated her commitment to creating a special government agency charged with recovering bodies from Pike River mine.

“We’ve always had specialist advice that says it is possible to do a safe, manned re-entry and that’s what we’ve committed to,” Ms Ardern said.

“[In the last seven years] we’ve had lies, we’ve had broken promises, and we’re quite frankly sick of it,” she said.

If elected as Prime Minister, Ms Ardern says she will create a specialist government agency dedicated to finding a way to safely re-enter the mine in stages to recover bodies and gather evidence.

Included in Labour’s first 100 days pledge:

  • Establish the Pike River Recovery Agency and assign a responsible Minister

They have done that.

Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement:

  • Commit to re-entry to Pike River.

After all that the Government is now going to do a risk assessment and decide whether re-entry is safe or not, and “in the end there can be no absolute guarantee”.


  1. Bodies ? what bodies ? There is little chance of anything like a body being found now. What will it achieve ? It will cost a massive amount, will do nothing to help the families and will probably tell us nothing that we didn’t know.

    Let the mine be the tomb and let these poor men rest in peace rather than being used as pawns. Let Winston Peters do it as his own expense if he’s that keen and thinks that it’s safe, After you, Mr Peters.

  2. Conspiratoor

     /  November 18, 2017

    What is it with politicians and promises

    Politicians promise you heaven before election and give you hell after – Emma Goldman

    • They are human beings and have impossible demands put on them.

      • PDB

         /  November 18, 2017

        Ardern promised the earth with no means of delivering it – whether it was to the public during the election campaign, or to Winston in order to win his support after the election. Costs were obviously never considered. In that case they have made a rod for their own back.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  November 19, 2017

          Oh yes-if they make rash promises that is one thing, but to generalise and say that all do is sloppy thinking.

    • phantom snowflake

       /  November 18, 2017

      Great to see a revolutionary anarchist being quoted: almost makes me feel at home here…

  3. PDB

     /  November 18, 2017

    Ardern & her allies said they would re-enter the mine regardless of safety issues – even go as far as over-ride the H&S laws created because of the mine disaster.

    Now Little is worried about safety? Risking live people for (at best) some bones of those dead is a joke.

    • Trevors_elbow

       /  November 18, 2017

      Hypocrisy and Lies….

      Funny, Little was Union Boss when this happened to Union members

    • Blazer

       /  November 18, 2017

      evidence please…’Ardern & her allies said they would re-enter the mine regardless of safety issues – even go as far as over-ride the H&S laws created because of the mine disaster.’

      • PDB

         /  November 18, 2017

        Stuff (October): “Little said the Government would likely create a new entity to manage the re-entry.
        He said an independent third party could be made responsible for the operations, but he was prepared to take responsibility himself. 

        “My inclination is actually this is a political matter… actually a Minister should take responsibility for it.”

        Little said the Government would likely pass legislation to create the entity.

        He said he wanted to mitigate all the risks if possible, but if necessary the Government would consider passing laws exempting the new entity from health and safety laws to allow re-entry – something Little proposed when Labour was in opposition.

        Little said he considered the health and safety stance Solid Energy took regarding re-entry was “unreasonable”.”

        • Blazer

           /  November 18, 2017

          you quote Little but allege Ardern made the committment.

          • PDB

             /  November 18, 2017

            Clutching at straws again I see Blazer – I said “’Ardern & her allies” said it. Considering Little works for Ardern and Ardern/Labour didn’t say he spoke out of turn (as they did with Nash) it must be assumed that is the Labour policy.

  4. Corky

     /  November 18, 2017

    You would think Andy learnt a thing or two after getting the chop as Labour leader. One thing you must do as a politician is relate to people, especially people in need. National didn’t do that over Pike River. The gutless wonders just spoke platitudes.

    Now, unbelievably, Labour is allowing National off the hook with their second thoughts on entering the mine. Second thoughts after they basically said we are going in…we can do this.

    How fugging dumb do you have to be? Goodbye Labour. You are losing support by the day.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  November 18, 2017

      National were simply giving the Pike River families the truth.
      They knew it was irresponsible to string them along and give false hope.
      NZ First especially, but Labour as well, politicised the issue in a disgraceful manner and made promises it was impossible to meet.
      Now it is coming home to roost.
      Had the opposition acted responsibly in the first instance much heartache for these families could have been avoided.

  5. David

     /  November 18, 2017

    If you are a National hating lefty who got all giddy at change you must be bitterly hurt, after 9 years of howling impotency you lose at the ballot box depressed at another 3 years then thrown a lifeline and joy oh joy finally you get to reverse all those horrible things…and no pike river, TPP going ahead, Hobbit law remains, National Standards rebranded, charter schools with a different name, Chinese still allowed to buy houses so all you get for a changing of the guard is an 11 billion dollar deficit and National Lite.

  6. artcroft

     /  November 18, 2017

    Labour is into frittering away taxpayer cash so they’ll leap at the chance to spend millions sifting for ash.

  7. Patzcuaro

     /  November 18, 2017


  8. Strong For Life

     /  November 18, 2017

    Mr Little assured staff that the Pike River was safe when he was secretary of the union (EPMU) that represented the miners. Miners were worried about the safety of the mine and intended to take strike action, however Mr Little assured the miners that the mine was safe. Fast forward a few years and he is saying the opposite. What a hypocrite this fool is.

  9. High Flying Duck

     /  November 19, 2017

    I had thought it was National who deregulated, but Gezza’s link above shows Labour were also responsible:

    “In fact, the 1999–2008 Labour Party government, which was backed by the Greens, continued to dismantle the Labour Department’s specialist mines inspectorate and allowed mine owners to self-regulate. In November 2012, Labour MP Damien O’Connor admitted he was warned in the 1990s by a mining expert that deregulation “would result in a massive mine disaster.” He said he felt “guilty” that he had not pushed to improve safety.
    Asked whether the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) had advised Labour to change the law, O’Connor avoided answering directly. Instead, he blamed “coal miners themselves” for not “demanding of their own union that things should change.” In reality, the union bureaucracy collaborated with mining companies to suppress workers’ safety concerns.
    From 2000 to 2011, Little was national secretary of EPMU, which had 71 members at Pike River Coal (out of 180 staff plus contractors).
    Fairfax Media reported on January 18 that the Labour Party leader dismissed “claims that as head of the miners’ union at the time of the explosion he could have done more to ensure health and safety at the mine.” Little said: “Our union and its members led a walk-out on health and safety grounds just weeks before the fatal explosion. .. I absolutely stand by our track record on improving health and safety both at Pike River and in mining generally.”
    The walk-out, the only industrial action ever taken at the mine, was initiated by a group of miners. One miner, Brent Forrester, called a union representative and said workers were concerned about the lack of emergency equipment. The official agreed that the workers should walk off the job. That advice was the full extent of the EPMU’s involvement.
    The EPMU knew about other safety breaches, including the lack of an adequate emergency exit in the mine and problems with methane gas accumulation. Yet it never organised a strike and did not publicly criticise Pike River Coal. The walk-out was only revealed more than two weeks after the explosion by Forrester, in an interview with TVNZ on December 5, 2010. (see video)
    Following the disaster, Little defended the company’s safety record. He told the New Zealand Herald on November 21, 2010, that the company had an “active health and safety committee” and that there was “nothing unusual about Pike River or this mine that we’ve been particularly concerned about.” (see video) He repeated his comments to Radio NZ the following day, saying the company had taken “great care” with safety.
    These statements were false. The EPMU was well aware of the dangerous conditions at the mine but chose to take no action to halt Pike River’s operations.”