Police release Pike River footage

Police have released 13 hours of robot video footage taken inside the access tunnel of the Pike River Mine. They say there is more to come but have to sort through a lot of material stored in various formats, some of which may be subject to privacy requirements and suppression.


Police release full footage of robot which entered Pike River Mine on 15 March 2011

Friday, 5 May 2017 – Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement

Police has today released over 13 hours of video it holds which were taken by the Western Australia Water Corporation robot which entered the drift of the Pike River mine on 15 March 2011. Selected extracts from this robot footage has been featured in the media this week.

This was the fourth robot entry into the drift, and it was conducted by the Pike River Coal receivers six days after Police handed over control of the mine.

Excerpts from this video were shown at family meetings in July 2011. Relevant sections of notes from family meetings on 9 March 2011 and 16 March 2011 have also been released today, which show discussion by Pike River Coal representatives of the robot’s entry to the mine, and the outcome.

The release of this video is in response to a number of requests, including Official Information Act requests from the families and media.  Police is currently working through the remaining aspects of these various requests, which involves a large amount of imagery and video stored in different data formats and locations.  Police is also mindful of its privacy obligations regarding individuals who appear on many still images, as well as suppression of some material by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, before we can publicly release the remaining material held. We are working to do this as quickly as we can.

We reiterate that Police has been absolutely committed to transparency with the families of the Pike River miners, and no information has been deliberately withheld by Police.

It has always been our approach from the earliest phases of the operation to show imagery and share information to keep the families appraised of the situation at that point in time. Police met with the families on numerous occasions between November 2010 and September 2011 to do this. Given the very large volume of video which was passed to Police, including many hours of the empty drift, boreholes and static video or indistinct imagery, not all footage was shown to families.

As part of these meetings, all families and support people were invited to meetings on 23 and 24 July 2011 in Greymouth and Christchurch. Approximately 25 direct family members attended.   The purpose of this meeting included showing some video which had already been played at previous meetings, as well as more recent footage including some from the 15 March 2011 robot entry.

Up to eight hours of video footage from multiple sources was shown at each of these two meetings. Specific footage from the robot of 15 March 2011 shown to the families included the two workers wearing breathing apparatus in the air-lock at the entrance to the drift with the robot, the two NZ Army robots which entered the drift in November 2010, and the robot pausing to take gas and temperature readings.

Police has also been working through historic records to determine what information held by Police was made available to the Royal Commission of Inquiry. We can confirm that the entire video from the fourth robot was released by Police to the Royal Commission of Inquiry in August 2011.

VIMEO link to robot footage: https://vimeopro.com/user66181559/pike-river-mine(link is external)

Please note the 13 plus hour video is divided into a number of separate files. A small number of files are not in a consecutive time sequence, however this is exactly as they were supplied to police.  There are some blank spaces and duplicate footage, again this is exactly as supplied to Police.


See also on RNZ:  Police did not mislead Pike River families – Deputy Commissioner

The Deputy Police Commissioner has insisted police did not try to mislead the Pike River victims’ families.

Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement told Checkpoint with John Campbell excerpts from the video were shown at family meetings in 2011, including some footage of two workers wearing breathing apparatus in the air-lock at the entrance to the drift with the robot.

He said they had not tried to mislead the families.

“My view of it is that everyone was trying to do exactly the opposite, [which was] to be open and transparent,” he said.

Mr Clement said he accepted there were views held now that that was not the case.

“But I’ve spoken to the staff [involved], they’re as upset as everybody that they’re now being accused of deceiving the family members.”

Anna Osborne, widow of Milton Osborne who died in the mine, said the families were never shown any excerpts of workers inside the drift.

“We would have remembered seeing that,” she said.

She said police were engaging in damage control by publicly releasing footage taken inside the mine.

“I think because the families had received a leaked version of it and because we were making some of it public, the police and the government were quite embarrassed by it all and in the end they had to act,” Ms Osborne said.

I think it is likely that some family members and others will never be satisfied unless the bodies are retrieved, the exact cause of the disaster is proven and some one, or some people or organisations or companies or politicians, are found to be culpable and are punished.

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.

Pike River access tunnel footage

Newshub has obtained video footage taken by a robot that went one and a half kilometres into the access tunnel at Pike River mine several months after the explosion.

This had not been revealed by the police, not even to the Royal Commission which is a shame, it should have been made available.

But I don’t know what it would have changed. It goes as far as an obstruction, a loader, and far from guarantees it would be safe going further into the mine.

True to form Patrick Gower is making it sound very dramatic and game changing but I’m not sure what it will change apart from giving him a headline or two.

All it does now is revive all the claims and counter claims and demands and uncertainties.

The robot revolution

In our lifetimes we have seen dramatic changes in our way of life and our way of working, largely due to the technology explosion.

Rapid advances in technology look like continuing. Automation and the use of robots is transforming many workplaces and these changes will continue to impact on the type of work people do and how much work is vailable for humans.

TV1’s Sunday has been doing a series on the changing nature of work and last night asked “What will  New Zealand’s coming robot revolution mean for your working life?

This showed examples of the sort of change that’s happening now, like fully automated milking sheds, self drive cars, trucks and trains, and automated warehouses.

Electronics has been a part of most of my working life.

My first career job after I left school was with the Post Office, as a Telephone Technician Trainee. Through that I studied Electronic Theory at Polytech. At one internal course that covered the exchange equipment used at the time, which was electro-mechanical, we were told about the future – electronic switching. I’ve been a part of the transformation to electronically driven communications.

However the Post Office was overstaffed and my actual work was mind numbingly boring. So I quit the Public Service (and because I only gave one month’s notice instead of three I was banned from working for them again).

I changed to a much more interesting and challenging job with Burroughs. I started again on electro-mechanical equipmet, adding machines, cash registers and accounting machines that were programmed with riveted pins of different lengths. I then trained on computer terminals and installed the first branch terminals used by the National Bank in Auckland. These connected to Databank by modem. This was in the mid seventies.

I changed jobs a number of times after that, usually involved in emerging technology. In the mid eighties I managed and programmed the first CNC turret punch (sheet metal) installed in southern New Zealand.

So I’ve been very involved in changing technology, often near the bleeding edge. I worked in IT before it was called IT. I introduced many people to computers and trained many people. That was last century. My work covered a wide range of emerging technologies.

in 2001 I got a new job that was more specialised – it had become too difficult to be a generalist. I’m still in that job, still in technology but a very narrowe field.

I’m aware of aspects of the technology revolution that seems to be building pace, still, but have really lost touch with the degree of change the world is undergoing.

What happens with robots and the workplace in the future won’t affect me much, as I probably only have a decade of employment left at the most.

But my children and especially my grandchildren will work in a world I couldn’t have dreamt of as a child.

The Sunday programme on the robotics revolution didn’t surprise me in that I was aware of the capabilities of electronic machines, but it was a bit of a shock to realise how much robots are already taking over many workplaces, and how that could dramatically change work opportunities in the future.

Sunday: Somewhere to work (15:02)