Pike River mine re-entered, just

Pike River Re-Entry Minister Andrew Little:

More than eight years after 29 men went to work at the Pike River Coal Mine and never came home, the promise to re-enter the mine drift has been honoured.

In the presence of families, experts from Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau mā Iwa-Pike River Recovery Agency completed breaching the 30m seal and successfully re-entered the Pike River mine drift. Previously scheduled for 3 May, the milestone had been delayed following a false oxygen reading from a failed sampling tube.

“New Zealand is not a country where 29 people can die at work without real accountability. That is not who we are. And that is why today we have fulfilled our promise. Today we have returned,” Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little said.

“The tragedy that took these men’s lives was the consequence of corporate and regulatory failure.

“Fulfilling the promise to do everything possible to safely re-enter is an act of justice for families who have waited for far too long.

“It is because of the families’ tireless efforts that future mining tragedies might be prevented.

“There is still much to do. We must find out what happened at Pike River. However long that takes, the recovery project will be done professionally.

“Most importantly, it will be done safely. Safety is the families’ and the Government’s bottom line. This was demonstrated when we delayed re-entry earlier this month.

“Today’s milestone belongs to the families and to the memory of their men. It also belongs to all New Zealanders, who know that going home to your loved ones is the least you should expect after a day’s work,” Andrew Little said.

Video and photographs of the re-entry have been released by the Stand With Pike Families Reference Group at www.tinyurl.com/190521pike

Background here: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/pike-river-re-entry

They have only just re-entered the mine. There is a long way to go.

This is a big step towards getting into the mine to investigate causes of the explosions, and to try to recover bodies, but there is a lot to do still.

I have concerns about promises being made, and expectations. The re-entry is expensive, risky, and may or may not resolve what families of the dead miners want.


Leave a comment


  1. David

     /  22nd May 2019

    I dont think there is a story that has been not about politics that has been more political.
    I find myself wanting a little oxygen to seep into the mine sparking a colossal explosion that mirrors an atomic bomb destroying everything within a 10km radius, without any injury to a person of course, and then all the players can shuffle their feet, look uncomfortable and then we will never hear from any of the political players in this tragedy ever again.
    May the miners themselves rest in peace, dying in a workplace is appalling and should never happen.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  22nd May 2019

      It shouldn’t but it did, and, of course, like all mine explosions, it happened to men as 170 years (more or less) ago it was decided that mining was too dangerous and arduous for women and ‘youths’ to do.

      A vile hag who was Matron of (dis)Honour at a late friend’s wedding to another vile hag claimed that she was Marty Palmer’s mother (later changed to grandmother when it was discovered that it was the younger man who was missing) She bravely carried on, gaining respect and sympathy, but not, alas, the publicity that would have exposed this disgusting lie. Mrs Palmer, mother and grandmother, was among those interviewed.

      I am still revolted by someone doing this.

  2. Corky

     /  22nd May 2019

    ”I have concerns about promises being made, and expectations. The re-entry is expensive, risky, and may or may not resolve what families of the dead miners want.”

    All true…but it will bring closure for the families. If the families expect more, I doubt they will receive much public sympathy or government support.

    But let’s not forget that hopefully this reentry may provide clues as to what facilitated the mine explosion, and maybe a slim chance of recovering bodies.

    Should bodies be recovered, this situation could explode in the face of the National Party and rescue services. What should have been closures will morph into bitter recriminations.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  22nd May 2019

      Closure as a concept is over-rated and facile.

      The people’s lives and sorrow won’t change; how can they?

      The National Party took advice from those who supposedly knew about these things and decided not to risk the living for a dubious chance of recovering any bodies.

  3. Trevors_elbow

     /  22nd May 2019

    Andrew Little what a hypocrite. His union stood by and did nothing pre-explosion. He is the last person to talk about this… I note it’s the corporates and regulators at fault. No mention of the union failing to take men out on strike

    • Duker

       /  22nd May 2019

      “No mention of the union failing to take men out on strike” – They did just that

      Workers staged a walkout over safety fears before a deadly explosion ripped through the Pike River coal mine, an inquiry into the tragedy has heard.

      Johannes Strydom, a former electrician at Pike River, is delivering testimony to the second phase of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mine tragedy today.

      Under questioning by Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) counsel Nigel Hampton QC, he revealed miners had consistently raised concerns with management about a lack of drift runners available for them to drive out of the mine in an emergency.

      They had once walked out of the mine in protest, Mr Strydom said.


      fewer than 1/3 of workers employed belonged to a union. Thats how it works these days. Legally the workplace safety is totally employers responsibility contrary to what Elbow seems to think. But fanatsy works so much better for some ‘armchair’ miners

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd May 2019

    Was Winston First in? Has he now declared victory and gone home?


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