Winston Peters wants photos from Pike River boreholes released

Winston Peters (Newshub/ Lloyd Burr)
Winston Peters (Newshub/ Lloyd Burr)

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is demanding the release of photographs from boreholes drilled into Pike River near where the families believe some bodies are.

Mr Peters said there are high definition photographs that show a transporter that was used to take men in and out of the mine.

The Pike River access tunnel or 'drift' is 2.3km long and EcoDrilling bored two holes into the very end of it at the request of mine owner Solid Energy.  

Borehole 50 was drilled at 2247 metres into the tunnel, and borehole 51 was drilled 2259 metres into the tunnel.

Both are in the last 100 metres of the tunnel, which has never been explored and where the families believe bodies of some of the 29 men could be.

The robot in the leaked video got to 1570 metres, the furthest anything has been inside.

In Parliament, Mr Peters asked Prime Minister Bill English why the photographs have been withheld from the Pike River families.

"Why did he refuse them in January when they asked specifically for that right?"

Mr English said he's open to Mr Peters' request that the families receive a copy of the borehole evidence.

"I can't see any reason why all of the material relevant can't be seen by the families," he says.  

Mr Peters claims there are photographs of a mine transport vehicle called a 'driftrunner' at the bottom of borehole 51 that were taken by high definition cameras but have never been made public.

"There's a drift runner used to transport workers in the mine located near a borehole in the slim line shaft and that there is photographic evidence of this," Mr Peters says.

Both are near a suspected rockfall at the very end of the tunnel, where it enters the main mine tunnel network.

EcoDrilling was awarded the contract in January 2014 to drill three bores into the underground mine from above.

The holes allowed specialists to assess the state of the tunnel for a proposed seal, made of a material called Rocksil.

While an attempt at the seal failed later in 2014, the audio-visual evidence gathered in boreholes 50 and 51 has never been released.

Mr Peters also has a concern with the contract signed by EcoDrilling which contains a special section called 'No Media Communications'.


Mr English admits he knows nothing about the contract or even the contractor.

EcoDrilling's contract is still in place, despite the Government abandoning efforts to re-enter the tunnel.

It's costing taxpayers $4400 a month for two drilling rigs to sit idle on the site above the access tunnel.