Pike River: Families handed the keys

The Pike River families will be given keys to the mine's access road today, seven years since the disaster.

Twenty-nine men were killed in the 2010 explosion, and minister responsible for Pike River Andrew Little will hand the gate keys over during a ceremony on Sunday morning.

Retrieving the bodies from the mine is the next step, and Anna Osborne says safety will be top priority.

"We know that it's like to lose a loved one, and it is sheer hell. We don't want anyone else to lose their lives going in to that drift to recover our men's remains."

Mr Little has admitted a re-entry of the mine may not happen early next year, as hoped.

The families have their hearts set on re-entering the mine and Ms Osborne says the new Government is involving them in all talks.

"It's really, really cool that now we have been included in the decision-making and we are having our voices heard, and there is some transparency as well along this journey."

The explosion killed 29 men in 2010, making it the worst mining accident in nearly a century.

"This is the start of our long journey ahead to get some sort of closure for the families," says Ms Osborne. "It's a day the families will remember forever."