Four Pike River families oppose re-entry

It's been revealed families of four Pike River Mine disaster victims don't support efforts to re-enter the mine's drift in a bid to recover bodies and investigate the cause of the 2010 explosion.

Dame Fiona Kidman made the revelation during her submission on her Pike River re-entry petition at a Parliamentary select committee on Thursday.

She says families of 25 victims have pledged their support, with the families of the other four wanting the remains left underground.

Dame Fiona's petition received 511 signatures and was tabled in Parliament last year, six years after the West Coast mine exploded, killing all 29 men working in it.

It calls for Solid Energy to cease sealing the mine until it's been ruled beyond reasonable doubt that human remains cannot be recovered. It urges the Government to "bring the remains of the 29 Pike River men home, if humanly possible".

"The families are not being heard, not being listened to, and are not properly understood," Dame Fiona told MPs. "There appears to me to be a strong commercial expediency to prevent a re-entry."

Families spokesman Bernie Monk also presented his case to the select committee.

"We want justice. Evidence can be found in the drift. Now is the time to get in there and have a look," he said.  "This is a crime scene and should be investigated as such. The families need closure. We will continue to fight for justice."

Adding credibility to a re-entry of Pike is the Government's own former chief mines inspector Tony Forster, who says it can be done.

"I've recovered survivors from mines before, I've worked with rescue teams, I've retrieved bodies," he said. "When I say I would go in myself, I mean it. I would physically go in myself. I walk the walk, I'm not here to just talk."

Today's select committee comes after a meeting with Prime Minister Bill English last night, where he vowed to stop Solid Energy permanently blocking the mine until further notice.