Pike River families protest decision to permanently seal mine

Pike River Mine families spent a chilling morning protesting at the gates to the mine,  calling on the workers there to down tools and stand with them against the Government's decision to permanently seal the mine. 

The Pike River Recovery Agency has completed its $50 million re-entry of the mine's access tunnel and is due to start works on the seal soon, while Police are part way through their borehole investigations. 

A father pushed to the picket line was one of 20 family members braving the cold and blocking the way for Pike River Recovery Agency workers tasked with sealing the mine that holds their 29 men. 

"The agency ute that's come up here has just turned around and gone away again so our journeys started," said Bernie Monk. 

He's the father of Michael, one of the men killed in the explosion - and he's furious.  

"They've got to live in the community with all our families and they've got to live and face us every day," he told Newshub.

"They're entombing our men and I know they don't want to do that so it's time for them to stand beside us and down tools and make sure they don't do it."

Twenty of the 29 families have lodged legal action against the seal, fighting to go deeper to recover the mine's fan area, which their experts believe could hold crucial evidence uncovering the cause of the first explosion.  

Carol Rose, Stu Mudge's mother, says the evidence is being "buried and sealed".

While the agency has successfully done its job of recovering the mine's drift. Police are part way through drilling boreholes to capture video footage as part of their investigations. 

The stepfather of another man killed in the mine, Ross Harvey. Says it's "wrong".

"I just think it's wrong and for whatever reason I don't see why they're rushing it. They've spent all this money to date to get this far and they're withdrawing as quickly as they can while police are still conducting their investigation."

But the Agency says they're just fulfilling the requirements of their mandated work. 

"The agency is not rushing the process, we've always had a program in place and the intent is to hand over the mine in November to DOC," Dave Gawn told Newshub.

"Prior to that as we have always said it's the intent to complete the permanent seal that will start around the middle of August."

The efforts on the ground are halting work for today. 

"When we were aware that there were families up at the mines site protesting we asked the workers to return to Greymouth," Gawn said.

That decision was met with applause from the group on the ground. 

The Monk family is vowing to never give up on justice for their son and brother. 

"We're going to keep fighting it," says Alan Monk - Michael's brother. 

"I'm going to teach my kids to fight it and I'm going to tell my kids to teach their kids to fight it and we just won't give up ever."

Fighting to finally uncover the truth behind what went so wrong at Pike River Mine.