Pike River manned re-entry almost certain after Peters' assurances

A manned re-entry of the Pike River Mine's access tunnel seems almost certain to become reality.

Winston Peters met with the families at Parliament ahead of preliminary coalition talks with National and Labour, telling them he'll use his balance of power to make it happen. 

For Bernie Monk and wife Kath, Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne, it was an all too familiar journey.

They all lost loved ones in the Pike River disaster and have been fighting for a re-entry into the mine ever since.

Year after year after year, they've come to Parliament, demanding answers and action. Today, for the first time in seven years, they have hope.

"We feel like we're winning," says Mrs Rockhouse. "We feel like we're getting there."

Mr Monk says: "It's a big move today, what's been said to us."

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What was said to them came from Mr Peters, who described the conversation as "first things first".

The smiles on the faces of family members said it all.

"Whatever decision he makes, Pike River will be a top priority and he reassured us on that," Mr Monk says.

Ms Osborne is also hopeful.

"Maybe one day soon, we will get into the drift and return some of the loved ones to their families."

The meeting was a deliberate ploy by Mr Peters, directed at the National Party, which wants to permanently seal the mine with the bodies of the 29 men inside.

Ms Rockhouse says that's no longer an option for National.

"It's one of his bottom lines, so they won't have a choice."

Mr Peters is adamant: "I mean to do what's right by those people."

The families weren't just at Parliament today - they were also in the Supreme Court for a judicial review into why WorkSafe never charged former Pike River boss Peter Whittle over the disaster.