Pike River mine protest enters third day

Pike River mine protest enters third day

The families of 29 men killed in the Pike River disaster six years ago are now in their third day of protest, camping near the mine.

They say gas levels at the mine make it safe to re-enter and retrieve the men's bodies.

Tony Sutorius, a documentary maker who met the protesters through late unionist Helen Kelly, says the families' wishes have been ignored by the Government and Solid Energy for too long.

"Solid Energy took over control of the mine several years ago," he says.

"That whole time Mines Rescue, which is a local group of experts who would do that kind of recovery, have never been asked about it by Solid Energy."

Mr Sutorius says for all the talk about getting the men's bodies out, the families now believe there's never been any real intention to do so.

Protestor Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son in the tragedy six years ago, says government plans to delay work are all very well, but they'll continue to protest when the sealing goes ahead.

"We're still not going anywhere," she says. "It's quite funny, don't you think, that they're not going to have anybody working up here in the one week when we happen to be here protesting?

"If they think that that's going to stop us and make us go away, then they're sadly mistaken."

Environment Minister Nick Smith says delays to seal off the mine are because of the emotions surrounding the upcoming sixth year anniversary on Saturday.

But Ms Woodhouse wants the Government to acknowledge their work and get rid of the plan altogether.

"We went to all this work to get all this information and they just disregarded it and just listened to their guy, and it's not right."

Mr Sutorius says the protesters aren't asking for something unrealistic.

"People think that these guys are crazed with grief and they're just so beside themselves that they're willing to put perfectly healthy people at risk to save the bones of their dead men. That's really not true. There's been heaps of work done to establish the safety to re-enter this mine."

He says the Chief Mines Inspector, Mines Rescue and an international expert have all said it's now safe to enter part of the mine.