Pike River Recovery Agency to launch

Pike River Minister Andrew Little and the Prime Minister will open the new agency on Wednesday.
Pike River Minister Andrew Little and the Prime Minister will open the new agency on Wednesday. Photo credit: Getty

The doors to the new Pike River Recovery Agency will open in Greymouth on Wednesday, marking a new era for the mine and the bodies of the 29 men entombed inside.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will travel to the West Coast to cut the ribbon at the new offices on the corner of Mackay and Tainui St, alongside Pike River Minister Andrew Little.

The agency is headed by former Army Chief Major General Dave Gawn, and it is tasked with devising a safe plan to get back into both the mine's access tunnel and main workings in stages.

If successful, the re-entry will allow the agency to gather evidence which could provide clues to what caused the initial explosion in the mine on November 19, 2010.

It would also allow remains of the 29 men to be recovered and returned to loved ones.

The launch of the agency comes after years of stalled re-entry plans by the former government and state-owned Solid Energy.

Mr Little says it's taken a lot of work behind the scenes to get the Pike River Recovery Agency off the ground.

"It brings together the work we've done to start the project to re-enter the mine, so I'm very much looking forward to launching it."

Mr Little will be updated about the progress of the agency by former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe, who has taken up a role of independent minister adviser.

Representatives of the victims' families have been part of the formation of the agency, one of whom is Anna Osborne who lost her husband Milton in the disaster.

"I've found the process actually very positive. I've been feeling included in everything that has been discussed, which is great," says Ms Osborne.

"I finally feel like we're going to get some truth and justice. It's music to my ears, and it brings a smile to my face."

Ms Osborne says Major General Gawn has been upfront, open, and honest. "I think he's the right person to lead the re-entry team into Pike.

"This is a massive deal. Honestly, I never thought this day would come. We now have an agency, and the office is opening tomorrow. It's just huge, absolutely huge," she says.

Other senior roles at the agency will be announced on Wednesday.

Newshub.

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