'We've waited nearly seven years for this' - Pike River widow

  • 30/10/2017

A manned re-entry of Pike River mine is on the cards under the new Labour government.

Pike River widow Anna Osborne told The AM Show Justice Minister Andrew Little's proposal is music to her ears.

"I'm really excited to be working alongside Andrew Little. He has supported a manned re-entry for a long time now...We've waited nearly seven years for this so it's amazing."

Ms Osborne said there are people willing to go into the mine who are just waiting to be given the green light.

"Getting up there, giving the people who are experienced enough to get up that drift and do their job and bring out what they can so that we can actually put the pieces together and figure out why this happened and maybe bring some closure to the families is going to make the families very happy."

Ms Osborne hopes those who man the re-entry can collect evidence as to what went wrong and retrieve any bodily remains of the miners that may be up there.

"We want closure, we want truth, and we want accountability for something that should never have happened."

Over two thirds of the 29 families of those killed in 2010 are "itching" to get into the mine, Ms Osborne said.

"Now the change of government has happened, we don't need to put all our energy into fighting the government to at least make an attempt to go in. We're going in under this government now.

"We don't know how severe that rock fall is. We'd been told that is was quite a major but we were also told that the drift was impassable, that it was too badly damaged for anyone to re-enter, but we've seen footage that proves to the contrary. We need to get in there. We need to get it looked at properly by the experts and let them get on with the job."

Justice Minister Andrew Little is the minister responsible for re-entry, and told The AM Show he is "very keen" to get into Pike River.

"I've got a chance now to work with the families, with their experts, to work with the officials in government here that have been doing all the work, bring together all the information we actually know and work up a plan together."

Mr Little revealed the former National government had proposed unmanned entry with a robot that hadn't yet been invented.

"We were meant to be backing the building of a prototype thing that would be dropped into the mine. Up to now, actually, there has been no plan...They've sent robots up that mine before and they're all stuck, they're all still there."

However, Mr Little confirmed he is looking at a manned re-entry.

"I've read two comprehensive reports so far  both say yes there are risks, but yes this is possible...You've just got to manage those risks, so let's find a way to do that.

"I haven't yet had conversations with the technical experts to understand completely some of the information I've seen, but what I have read so far it is more likely than not that we can get in there reasonably quickly.

"It won't be before Christmas, it will be early next year. March/April would be realistic."