Entry makes way for long-awaited forensic examination to begin

Pike River families hope the removal of the seal to the mine will finally mean work can move forward on finding human remains and crucial evidence.

They've been battling for over eight years for justice after losing 29 loved ones in the 2010 explosions, and on Tuesday came the moment they were waiting for.

The families clapped and shed tears as they watched the concrete wall come down and the mine opened for re-entry.

They gathered at the gates of the mine as a loader removed the seal and brought out a block of concrete that once sealed the mine.

With the seal gone, three miners were able to go further and open the door and head inside, exposing the first 170 metres of the drift to fresh air for the first time in years.

"It's in really really good condition," says Pike River Recover Agency chief officer Dinghy Pattinson, one of those who went inside. "It's as it was left when Solid Energy sealed it in 2016."

The entry work is now making way for long-awaited forensic examination to begin, the investigation into those who perished inside.

"This was going to be permanent lid of their coffins of their tomb up there, but we stopped that," family spokespeople told Newshub.

And the families hope their long wait will pay off as the search for answers begins into what caused the tragedy that claimed the 29.