Winston Peters visits Pike River families with election promise
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has stayed true to his promise to the Pike River families that he will fight their fight with them ahead of this year's election.
On Saturday he travelled deep into the West Coast to the mine gates to visit some of the Pike families and has reiterated he will hang any coalition deals on it.
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Locking the gates to the Pike River Mine that the families erected in protest, Mr Peters was a politician very keen to show he is on their side.
"You've been stitched up from the word go, you've been told one thing, whereas they've always intended to do something else," Mr Peters said.
He is supporting their calls to re-enter the drift - a 2.3km tunnel leading into the mine, where 29 people died after an explosion in 2010.
The families are pinning their hopes on it.
"He's put his stake in the sand and said he won't go into coalition with any party that goes into power," families spokesman Bernie Monk says.
Mr Peters says they've been treated appallingly and Prime Minister Bill English needs to step up.
"Keep the promise that his former leader made but that he never kept, he could start off being a Prime Minister doing something real."
Mr Peters says his coalition bottom line will be simple: get the bodies out.
"Instead of hiding behind, for example, Solid Energy's excuses - that the political process ensures it does happen - that's what the bottom line is.
The families are feeling hopeful.
"Hopefully that will send a clear message to whoever wants Winston on his side to take the Pike River families seriously," widow Anna Osborne says.
The same sentiment was shared by Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son in the explosion.
"Any support from any politician we can get is awesome."
"He's the first guy that's come and stood really beside us and put his stake in the sand so I admire him for that," Mr Monk says.
Next month, a Parliamentary select committee hearing will investigate Pike River re-entry. The families say the Government must stand up, get rid of Solid Energy and take action.
There's no doubt these people are still not even beginning to contemplate giving up.