‘Closure’ may be elusive in Pike River re-opening

The Press Editorial: Pike River decision is a victory for justice

The decision to re-enter the Pike River Mine in early 2019 has been a long time coming and does not have universal public support. Some see it as merely a triumph of public relations and emotion, or of election promises over tough realism.

But they are arguably a minority voice.

That is certainly arguable, with nothing to support this claim of minority dissent.

While it is clear that a lot is at stake for a Government that made a commitment to the Pike River families – and particularly for Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little, who has campaigned so vigorously – most New Zealanders will be both sympathetic to the suffering of those family members who support re-entry and will also see the value of answering questions about a disaster that killed 29 men on the West Coast eight years ago.

Politicians are bad at overusing unsubstantiated ‘most New Zealanders’ claims. While editorials are opinions it’s disappointing to see a major newspaper prop up their views with assumptions.

Those who argue that the grieving families should accept their losses and move on are therefore overlooking the fact that justice has been elusive in the Pike River case.

Crap. Some maybe. But I don’t overlook the justice aspect. What I think though is that the re-entry may struggle to do justice to identifying causes as much as it may struggle removing the remains of the miners (especially all the miners).

For the families who support re-entry, led by representatives Anna Osborne, Sonya Rockhouse and Bernie Monk, the announcement of the re-entry speaks to a dogged determination that is both a tribute to the memory of lost family members and a wider commitment to truth over political and bureaucratic obfuscation.

As Dave Gawn has suggested, there is a good chance there will no bodies in the drift of the mine. If that happens, you can expect to hear a familiar chorus of voices calling the re-entry an expensive stunt. But it will be just as important to learn whether evidence has been gathered that can progress a criminal case and might even lead to the apportioning of blame that the doomed mine’s former manager seems so eager to minimise.

I think there is a high chance of disappointment in the first attempt at re-entry. What then?

NZ Herald editorial: Expensive Pike River re-entry plan does not go very far

There was never much doubt the present Government would grant the wish of Pike River families to re-enter the mine as far as that may be done safely.

The fact those two were able to walk out of the mine after the explosion suggests no others were in the tunnel, but for some of the families, as the past eight years have proved, hope springs eternal.

If the re-entry discovers no human remains, there is at least the possibility forensic evidence will be found pointing to the cause of the first explosion and permitting those responsible to be held personally to account at last for 29 deaths.

A royal commission of inquiry produced damning conclusions of the cause of the disaster based on testimony of those who knew the mine, and the mine insurers have made a payout to the families, but it is possible something found in the tunnel will provide a clearer explanation, possibly even an indictable one.

I think it’s unlikely much in the way of useful forensic evidence will be found in the initial re-entry.

On these remote possibilities the Government is staking $36 million, an extraordinary increase on the $7.2 million plan put to the previous Government just five years ago. And yet the minister in charge, Andrew Little, has obviously chosen the cheapest of three options put to him by the Pike River Recovery Agency.

Little and his recovery agency do not sound sure of what they will be able to do beyond the second chamber only 170m into the 2km tunnel. Little said, “There is a lot we don’t know and will not know until we are confronted with the situation as we find it”.

He added, “This will require agile thinking, the courage to say if we are uncomfortable, the preparedness to re-assess, reset and re-plan when necessary, and knowing when to call it quits”.

Clearly a lot could go wrong.

Hopefully nothing major will, go wrong, but the chances of everything going right may be slim.

But the families that have been pressing for a re-entry for eight years have been rewarded for their persistence.

They managed to successfully play political pressure game.

They have never sounded hopeful that a recovery effort could get further than the rockfall. They must accept this plan could get that far and find nothing of their loved ones. If nothing else, it surely provides the “closure” they need.

Really? I’m not clear on what ‘closure’ actually is (apart from closure of the mine which they opposed). I think it probably means different things to different people.

If it means making everyone happy I’m not optimistic.

70 Comments

  1. duperez

     /  November 15, 2018

    Making everyone happy? I see that now some are getting their jollies by blaming Andrew Little for the Pike disaster because he was in the union that had/may’ve had something to do with miners.

    • Gerrit

       /  November 15, 2018

      There are no jollies or happiness to be had by pointing out that Andrew Little as EMPU leader declared that the mine had no safety issues as far as the union was concerned.

      Only great sadness that the very people at risk were not protected by their union or at worst did not indicate to the union there were safety issues at the mine.

      When the drift entry is made, and so far only for 170 metres, forensic scientist will need to enter to collect evidence.

      For if blame is to be apportioned, the evidence will need to be forensically perfect in authentication and presentation. If the evidence is in the least tainted, it wont stand up to the scrutiny of a defense layer.

    • Strong For Life

       /  November 15, 2018

      I don’t think anyone is blaming him for the disaster. Instead they are calling out his hypocrisy for now saying the opposite to what he did when he was union secretary. His comments during that time are on record. He stated more than once that there were no problems with mine management or health and safety issues at Pike River. Perhaps he has a guilty conscience?

  2. Funny to see Tracey Martin reminding about Winston’s re-entry pledge

    ‘and he’ll go into the mine himself’.

    • Corky

       /  November 15, 2018

      ”And he’ll go into the mine himself’.”

      In a burst of self promotion she may have forgotten about the part that has Winston standing at the mine entrance, and saying bravely..follow me men! ‘😄

      I’m sure Winston will have a chat with her.

  3. Strong For Life

     /  November 15, 2018

    Winston and Andrew Little leading the way in to the mine drift. Let’s do this.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  November 15, 2018

      Is Winston still smoking?

      • robertguyton

         /  November 15, 2018

        Smouldering, more like.

        • robertguyton

           /  November 15, 2018

          Incandescent at time.

          • robertguyton

             /  November 15, 2018

            More than a match for the Opposition.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              Paula Bennett can’t hold a candle to him.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              It’s so funny how National, under Key, misplayed the Winston situation so badly and created the perfect opportunity for the coalition Government we are now enjoying. So many of National’s “unkind” behaviours have come back to bite them; Jami-Lee Ross, anyone?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  November 15, 2018

          May come out with a bang then.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  November 15, 2018

        He will if he’s still smoking.

        Robert’; JLR’s nine days are over.

        • robertguyton

           /  November 15, 2018

          Kitty – JLR gone quiet, has he?
          Not
          for
          long.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  November 15, 2018

            Not with you around banging on and on about this stale news that even Corky isn’t still harping on about.

            Everyone is BORED with it now.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              Not the Nat’s. They’re still in panic mode. That can be exhausting.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  November 16, 2018

              If they are, they aren’t harping on and on….

            • Gezza

               /  November 15, 2018

              Why do think they’re in panic mode.? I haven’t detected that they’re in panic mode. I detect that you’re still in seething hatred for the Nats mode, but the mode the Nats seem to be in is cautious but not particularly worried. JLR’s goals have all been own goals so far. He may even turn out to improve the performance and public perception of Bridges – apart from those few members of the great unwashed who just hate National and at times any other party as opposed to their preferred one.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              They are in panic mode. The recordings of Bridges slagging off Mauren Pugh, making deals over JLR’s “misdemeanours”, Bennett’s “intimations” of marital improprieties, the female Nat MP’s awful email (have you seen it in its entirety, Gezza) talk of improper behaviour behind Nat lines, and so on and so on, have exposed the party to the public as unhealthy and unsavoury. Bridges et al may believe they’ll benefit from the handling of events, but I don’t. Their forced bravado, “we’ve moved on” is a blunt attempt to stem the flow of support at a basic level, from the National Party and they know it. That’s why they’re in panic mode, mixed with public denial and frozen smiles.

  4. Zedd

     /  November 15, 2018

    I dont think the families are expecting miracles from the re-entry.. perhaps the remains of their loved ones, may be recovered.. OR perhaps a reassurance that it was not a result of ‘corporate neglect’ or even a coverup of dodgy OSH practices ?

    BUT to just lock it off (Team Natl) & say.. ‘nothing more to see here’.. was just crying ‘there MAYBE something foul here.. we dont want them to see’

    OR; at least to some, this was a perception ?! :/

    • Zedd

       /  November 15, 2018

      “good onya Mr Little/this Govt.” for at least hearing their calls.. Instead of just ‘It will just COST too much to even bother”

  5. PDB

     /  November 15, 2018

    A timely reminder that this has been turned into a political football by the Coalition govt and that the families pushing for re-entry at all costs don’t represent all the families who lost loved ones;

    “Some people might assume that all 29 affected families considered yesterday’s news as a “victory,” she said, but she was one of the silent many who disagreed.”

    “She said the plan was an “appalling” waste of $36 million.
    “I’m just so disappointed. I couldn’t believe that cabinet would sign this off,” she said.”

    “I see it as sacrilege, really. To go in fossicking around for remains… to go in just to see what they find – I think it’s just disgraceful,” she said.
    Ms Curtin loathed the fact it had become so political. She said the months leading up to last year’s election were especially challenging.
    “Some people liked that… the politicians climbing on board. I certainly didn’t. That was my son’s death they were playing with.” she said.”

    “While yesterday’s news had been extolled as a “huge victory” and a relief for the people in Greymouth, Ms Curtin did not feel this way and refuted the idea that she was in the minority.
    She said the actions of those who were for re-entry had been strategic and systematic, and had kept Pike River Mine at the forefront of everybody’s mind.”

    https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/mother-of-pike-river-victim-re-entry-plan-disgraceful/ar-BBPJb0I?ocid=spartandhp

    • robertguyton

       /  November 15, 2018

      Ms Curtin doesn’t accept that she’s in the minority.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  November 15, 2018

        We know that. Have you anything to add?

        • robertguyton

           /  November 15, 2018

          Yes, She also said: “the actions of those who were for re-entry had been strategic and systematic, and had kept Pike River Mine at the forefront of everybody’s mind.”

          • robertguyton

             /  November 15, 2018

            And before you ask, she also said that she thinks go in is “disgraceful”. I wonder if the majority think that? I doubt it.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              going in

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              Many people will think it ‘disgraceful’ if someone is seriously injured or killed going in there just for the sake of pretending to do something and for a coalition govt trying to save face.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  November 15, 2018

              She thinks making a political posture out of her son’s death and burned and buried remains is disgusting. Probably most people could understand that. Can you?

      • PDB

         /  November 15, 2018

        Proof? It says: “Ms Curtin did not feel this way and refuted the idea that she was in the minority.”.

        Let’s assume she is in the minority, does her opinion & those others not wanting mine re-entry not count? Shouldn’t her rights also be part of any equation regarding re-entering the mine?

        • robertguyton

           /  November 15, 2018

          Let’s assume she is in the minority. Okay.

          • PDB

             /  November 15, 2018

            What if 40% of families don’t want to go in – should their rights & wishes be totally overlooked for the other 60%?

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              You reckon 40%? Why?

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              Hypothetical Robert for the purposes for you to answer a simple question Try this one again: Ms Curtin thinks she isn’t in the minority. Unless we are told exactly how the % for/against sits what makes you so certain Ms Curtin is in the minority?

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              PDB – you are not concentrating on what’s been written. I have not claimed to be certain that she’s in the minority, nor have I said that she is. I simply stated that she believes she isn’t; “Ms Curtin doesn’t accept that she’s in the minority.” – she “refuted the idea that she was in the minority.” – that’s a direct quote from text you provided, PDB. Calm yourself and work with actual statements, not imagined ones. You too, Gezza. You are both frothing over things you hear inside of your own heads.

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              If that’s the case then you should be far clearer as “Ms Curtin doesn’t accept that she’s in the minority.” could be read as a statement of fact (as in ‘she can’t accept she’s in the minority’).

              If taken as you say you mean it then what was the point of you post? As usual your posts on here are pointless and/or reposts of other nutty views so all fool me for thinking you were actually saying something.

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              *your*

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              PDB – when you aren’t sure how to interpret something written by a commenter who’s not shy of replying, ASK them, before slagging them off and assigning added views to them that aren’t factual. Straight up, I believe there are many here who do this regularly. To me it’s slack behaviour. You have a decent mind for political commenting, though you’re terribly biased 🙂 so how about a bit of discipline from you when it comes to the debate? That’d be fun 🙂

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              Your comment “Ms Curtin doesn’t accept that she’s in the minority” has zero meaning or worth if read the way you reckon you meant it. It’s simply repeating what has already been said with no comment.

              Again my mistake for thinking you were actually stating something rather than filling this site full of spam for the rest of us to wade through.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              PDB – I like language. I like that sentence because of its ambiguity. As you have pointed out, it can be interpreted in different ways. I posted it because of that reason; it’s a clear example. Your reaction, to assume one meaning then pile in because it irritated you, shows something else that’s interesting also; the ease with which carelessness can inflame argument where there wasn’t necessarily real conflict of opinion. Your own bias and prejudice was the driver behind the ensuing squabble, not the simple quote. If you were serious about making a good argument one way or the other, you would take care not to expose yourself so readily.
              It’s like saying, “Jami-Lee Ross is still in Parliament” which is a matter of fact, and having someone like Kitty jump in and up and down; it says more about her than anything else. My example is hypothetical. I don’t really know what Kitty would do if I wrote that. But I can make a pretty good guess. I’d be sure to ask her though, or quote a similar situation 🙂

          • Gezza

             /  November 15, 2018

            Let’s assume she is in the minority. Okay.

            Let’s assume she’s not. Okay? Let’s assume that because she’s refuted the idea she’s in the minority, she is in touch with many of the others and knows she is not. Let’s also assume Tony Kokshoorn is a local Mayor playing politics – okay? So, assuming those couple of things – all reasonable assumptions, imo – let’s just have you admit you don’t give a fuck about the rights of any other family members who don’t agree with this reentering the mine plan and expect it to bring nothing but more misery and resent the way people like you throw their grief and their wishes into the mud and stamp on them because that’s how you are? Okay?

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              What drivel, Gezza. Why, I wonder, do you feel comfortable making claims on behalf of someone else, without having asked them what they think or accepting what they’ve actually written.

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              Well put Gezza. It seems people backing the re-entry don’t give a shit about the families that don’t want it to occur and/or the unnecessary risk of life to those re-entering the mine, especially when the ‘reward’ is so little in the grander scheme of things and chances of getting that ‘reward’ so slight.

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              Still waiting for you Robert to present evidence that Ms Curtin is in the minority of families (as you announced above) when she suggests in that article otherwise?

            • Gezza

               /  November 15, 2018

              Don’t make me fucken larf robert. You’d be one of the worst commenters here for constantly making claims about what other people you don’t know personally, especially politicians you loathe, are like – just because you’re the loathing type. Don’t get on your sanctimonious horse with me, I’ll just knock you off it.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              Gezza; there’s a huge difference between claiming to know what a politician is like, and claiming to know what a commenter here thinks. It’s opposite and sensible to ask, research and if you want to make claims as to someone’s position or thinking, provide quotes. Wild, unsubstantiated claims don’t suffice. You’ll not take me down from a supposed “high horse” by wildly declaring this and that without being able to back any of it up. It’s not credible. Same for PDB. By all means, quote me, as evidence. I await with eager anticipation.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              “polite” self-corrected to “opposite”

            • Gezza

               /  November 15, 2018

              I can’t be bothered scrolling back through your meaderings robert. I’m reading other pages now.

            • Gezza

               /  November 15, 2018

              “polite” self-corrected to “opposite”

              I would have written “apposite” there if I’d been writing that dross.

            • Gezza

               /  November 15, 2018

              Here’s one of your pieces of transumption, robert – I just happened on it
              by accident scrolling up. Nothing but personal bile leading to a conclusion about what the public think. The public doesn’t think like you, robert. That’s why the Greens have so many nutters, a benefit fraudster as a former co-leader, and such a tiny overall party vote and low polls.

              https://yournz.org/2018/11/15/closure-may-be-elusive-in-pike-river-re-opening/#comment-325912

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              Again, Gezza , it’s quite ordinary on a blog to make assumptions or claims about “what the public think” – most do it and all know it’s opinion. On the other hand, it’s poor practice to make claims on behalf of another poster here when they are quite capable of saying what they think, unless you have the courtesy to quote. It’s difficult to see why you struggle to make this distinction.

            • Gezza

               /  November 15, 2018

              I’m not letting you waste more of my time on this issue robert.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              Kitty said (of the Jami-Lee Ross “business”) – “Everyone is BORED with it now.”
              Will you strop her up for making claims on behalf of everyone?
              Clearly NOT everyone is bored with the on-going train wreck that is destroying the National Party, despite her claims. I’m not putting words into her mouth, claiming this or that; I’m quoting her directly. QFT. That’s polite.

            • Gezza

               /  November 15, 2018

              I’ve been thru all the pages and had a read of those comments of interest. Off to play some guitar now then maybe watch tv. Nite robert.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              Sleep deeply and well, Gezza. We’re expecting high winds here and I fear for my peach crop. The little guys are vulnerable to shaking-off at this early stage and there’s nothing I can do but cross my fingers.

  6. robertguyton

     /  November 15, 2018

    “It seems people backing the re-entry don’t give a shit …” what drivel PDB; “it seems…it seems….it seems. You’re making stuff up.

    • PDB

       /  November 15, 2018

      A lot of the re-entry to Pike River Mine is purely so the coalition govt does not break yet another of their election promises.

      Chances are much higher that nothing of note will be found in there yet the govt is willing to put people’s lives at risk for families who themselves are not 100% united in wanting to re-enter the mine.

      • robertguyton

         /  November 15, 2018

        PDB – questions for you: when John Key made the claim to the families of the miners that he would do everything he could to “get the boys out” or whatever, did you make comments on a blog in favour of Key? Did you have an opinion about his claim? Do you now, believe him to have “not given a shit” about the families that didn’t want that to happen? I’d be very surprised if you answer these questions, btw.

        • PDB

           /  November 15, 2018

          The proviso has always been that safety of the people going in has to be paramount to any re-entry effort – the mine still presents a risk to the lives of those entering it and the so-called ‘rewards’ of successfully doing so are not worth that risk. Especially now considering the time that the mine has been sealed off.

          Personally I think Little will get people to enter a little way in and then call it off for safety reasons. Simply a case of pretending to keep a promise they made at election time.

          Sort of like promising 100,000 affordable homes but instead buying some off a developer and selling them at a taxpayer gifted discount to fairly well-off people and/or property speculators who happened to win a lottery & then claiming that’s what they campaigned on.

          • robertguyton

             /  November 15, 2018

            So, no comment about Key and your support/opposition to his call then. I’m not surprised. A bit disappointed though.

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              I was never for re-entry unless the mine was 100% safe to re-enter.

              John Key said the same thing. His exact words in that one statement, the meaning of which gets twisted by the left were: “The first thing is I’m here to give you absolute reassurance, we’re committed to getting the boys out, and nothing’s going to change that. So – when people try and tell you we’re not, they’re playing, I hate to say it, but they’re playing with your emotions.”

              He was ‘committed to getting the boys out’ is far different then promising 100% to get the bodies out whatever the safety risk to those going in or flat-out ignoring the mining experts Solid Energy consulted when making their decision not to re-enter. Re-entry was always dependent on expert advice and risk to those entering.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              PDB – is Little “promising 100% to get the bodies out whatever the safety risk to those going in”? If not, why have you put that claim up? I don’t think you are arguing strongly, rather, you are throwing wild claims at the issue. Come on. You can do better!

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              Ironically, considering your statement above, you have misread me – it is the left who for years has been saying that Key promised “100% to get the bodies out” when in actual fact he simply didn’t say that.

            • robertguyton

               /  November 15, 2018

              I’ve never said or believed that, PDB. In any case, you’ll be tired of my haranguing. I’m off to bed.

            • PDB

               /  November 15, 2018

              If true you’d be one of the few from the Standard that didn’t say or believe it. Enjoy your sleep.

  7. “This will require agile thinking, the courage to say if we are uncomfortable, the preparedness to re-assess, reset and re-plan when necessary, and knowing when to call it quits”. — Andrew Little

    I think if you read slowly and carefully between those lines you will not find it edifying.