Pike River memorial track a 'token gesture' - families

Several families of the miners who died in Pike River are opposed to a new walking track that's to be built in the area.

Part of the track is dedicated to the 29 men and the $10 million project is expected to have an economic spinoff for the West Coast.

It was over two years ago that Pike River families' spokesperson Bernie Monk and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith overlooked the rugged Paparoa Ranges and talked about a memorial walkway.

Six years since the mining disaster came the announcement that construction will finally begin at the end of the month.

"It's been quite emotional for me today to see the first clog turned over today," Mr Monk told Newshub.

"Long after all the families are gone, our men are going to be part of history for ever and ever."

The 55km track will link Blackball with Punakaiki, with the 10km side track dedicated to the Pike 29 and taking them to the former Pike River Mine site.

It's hoped to bring economic benefit to the West Coast, but friends and family of the 29 see no benefit.

Ben Rockhouse's mum Sonya believes a memorial walk is an expensive token gesture.

"Quite a few of the families are not interested in it either," she told Newshub.

"We've got enough memorials. Instead of worrying about things like that, give us what we want - let us get in to the drift."

But Dr Smith sees the value in the country's first all year round mountain biking and hiking track.

"It is spectacular country but very inaccessible and this great walk is going to open it up for New Zealanders and for international visitors," he told Newshub.

"In my view, it is going to become one of those sort of bucket list type of thing."

Perhaps not the best choice of words, and when the track opens next year, Pike families could be protesting to remind him of their losses.

Newshub.

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