Pike River timeline: From the first explosion to the re-entry

After more than eight years, the Pike River mine will finally be breached as a team re-enters for the first time since the fatal explosions.

Twenty-nine men were killed during a series of explosions at the coal mine in November 2010.

A later Royal Commission of Inquiry found the miners were exposed to "unacceptable risk", prompting wide-spread health and safety reforms.

While the National Government at the time refused to re-enter the mine, due to safety concerns, the current Government vowed to go back in.

On Tuesday, that will finally happen.

Here's how it all unfolded over the years.

November 19, 2010

  • 3:44pm A explosion blasts through Pike River mine
  • 4:10pm: Those outside the mine lose contact with the afternoon shift, according to CEO Peter Whittall
  • 5:51pm: The first two miners emerge. Three others are thought to be on their way up as well

November 20, 2010

  • 8:17am: Whittall confirms 29 people are stuck below ground
    Police area commander Gary Knowles vows to "bring the boys home"
  • 7:35pm: Poor air quality forces the rescue to be delayed
    The decision is made to wait until the morning

November 21, 2010

  • 8:30am: Underground heating is generating poisonous gases. Still no word on when the rescue will take place

"I'm not going to put 16 guys underground and risk losing them to a half-arsed rescue" - Gary Knowles, police area commander

November 22, 2010

  • 5:30pm: Police tell media they're preparing for the "potential loss of human life"
  • Photos of the trapped miners are released publicly for the first time
A graphic of the Pike River victims, with text over it reading: "A potential loss of human life", attributed to Gary Knowles, police area commander
Photo credit: Newshub.

November 23, 2010

  • 9:20am: The rescue robot breaks down after encountering water, to the families' fury

"The longer it goes on, hopes fade and we have to be realistic" - police statement

November 24, 2010

  • 2:37pm: A devastating second explosion rips through the mine
    All men are thought to have been killed

"A national tragedy" - John Key, Prime Minister

November 26, 2010

  • 3:39pm: A third explosion rocks the mine, ending all remaining hopes of recovering the men's bodies

November 28, 2010

  • After a fourth explosion, the mine is sealed due to safety concerns

November 29, 2010

  • Government announces a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mine explosions

November 5, 2012

  • The Royal Commission finds the miners were exposed to "unacceptable risk" by their bosses
  • A raft of sweeping changes are recommended to health and safety laws

"Mining should have stopped until the risks could be properly managed" - Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy

A graphic of Winston Peters speaking at an event, with text over it quoting: "I'm offering to be on the first party back in", attributed to Winston Peters, NZ First leader
Photo credit: Newshub.

December 13, 2016

  • New Zealand First leader Winston Peters vows to re-enter the condemned mine if elected
  • He promises it will be a "bottom line" to any possible coalition deals

August 15, 2017

  • A cross-party agreement pledges to re-enter the Pike River mine if elected to Government
  • Labour, the Green Party, the Māori Party and United Future signed the agreement

"The fight that we thought was over a few years ago has now re-ignited" - Anna Osborne, widow

August 28, 2018

  • Bernie Monk, whose son perished in the disaster, re-enters the mine's drift for the first time
  • Newshub's Patrick Gower enters with him, the first journalist to do so
A graphic of Bernie Monk and Patrick Gower standing at the Pike River mine drift, with text over it quoting: "I just want to tear it down myself", attributed to Bernie Monk, father
Photo credit: Newshub.

November 14, 2018

  • Minister for Pike River Recovery Andrew Little announces a team will re-enter the mine in February, 2019
  • Work begins to ready the mine for re-entry

May 2, 2019

  • After delays, the first three members of the re-entry team are set to enter the mine on May 3
  • 12:45pm: Recovery Minister Andrew Little announces the re-entry is delayed due to unexpected air quality readings

"Safety has always been our first priority, and will continue to be" - Andrew Little, Minister for Pike River Recovery

May 21, 2019

  • Plagued by delays and difficulties, the first party is finally set to re-enter the mine for the first time since the disaster