As well as undertaking preliminary meetings with National and Labour over the next New Zealand Government yesterday, NZ First’s Winston Peters met families of some of the men who died at the Pike River coal mine in 2010.
Last year the NZ First leader said re-entering the mine would be a bottom line in any negotiations, going as far as pledging to go into the mine himself.
Anna Osborne, whose husband died in the disaster, told Radio New Zealand she had faith Peters would deliver on his promise.
“It was one of his bottom lines and it still is - and to have that reaffirmed has just been amazing. It certainly put a smile on the Pike River families' faces, that's for sure,” she said.
Peters said major parties would have to keep an open mind about Pike River as part of negotiations.
“This is a serious matter, 29 people lost their lives. They've been denied justice, it's just been contaminated with a whole lot of appalling political behaviour so we intend to sort it out,” Peters said.
There are initiatives underway for a robotic entry into the damaged and semi-sealed coal mine, that had been purchased from the ashes of Pike River Coal Ltd by Solid Energy and examined but never mined by that now defunct State-owned company.
About two years ago Solid Energy’s then management sought to shut the mine and hand back the permit to Government after it concluded it was too dangerous to undertake any body recoveries from the depths of the mine.
While there could be access into the drift two consultants who spoke to NZResources said the lower reaches of the mine were considered somewhere between unsafe and dangerous.
The Pike families are understandably distraught about the lack of body recovery moves, the prevarications after the mine blast, the inept involvement of the police instead of available trained mine rescue people. It is high time the families’ cited expert consultants made clear how there could be a mine re-entry without risking more lives.
It may be that NZ First, Labour and other political parties need also to talk to some of the industry people concerned about the dangers of re-entry.
*Sources: radionz.co.nz and nzresources.com data.