Government to establish new Pike River agency

The Government will establish a new Pike River agency, with re-entry expected by March 2019.

The agency will work with families to plan for a manned re-entry of the Pike River mine drift to determine if there are any human remains inside.

It will be set up by the end of January 2018, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday, and will be headed by a chief executive who will report to Andrew Little, the Minister Responsible for Pike River.

Ms Ardern said the agency may be located "closer to the mine than Wellington", possibly a nod to New Zealand First and its aim to have Government departments shifted to the regions.

Mr Little will make the final decision on whether to re-enter the drift, based on expert advice from the agency.

"I have planned on the basis that the new agency will, depending on my decision, execute a plan for complete recovery of the drift by the end of March 2019," Mr Little said. "Exact timing will depend on technical assessments."

The agency and re-entry is expected to cost $23 million over three years. The agency will take over Pike River ownership from Solid Energy, by the time it enters liquidation in mid-March 2018.

After the re-entry, ownership of Pike River will return to the Department of Conservation, including a planned Pike29 Memorial Track, as part of Paparoa National Park.

The Pike River Recovery Agency will also be known as Te Kahui Whakamana Rua Tekau ma Iwa, which translates to "the empowering voice for the Pike 29".


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