Government's refusal to go further into Pike River mine a broken promise to some families

The families of those killed at Pike River are divided over whether to accept the Government's refusal to go further into the mine.

Many have accepted the decision - with heartbreak. But others see Pike River Minister Andrew Little's refusal as a broken promise that denies them justice. 

The Family Reference Group, which represents 27 families of the Pike River men - including the likes of spokesperson Sonya Rockhouse who lost her son Ben in the 2010 disaster - met with Little on Monday night. 

Newshub has obtained a recording, in which Little can be heard telling them: "There is no additional funding to take the project beyond what we committed to, which is the recovery of the drift."

But not all the families accept the decision, or accept that the Government only committed to recovering the drift. They feel frozen out.

Gordon Dixon, whose brother Allan is beyond the drift, is quitting the Family Reference Group because of it.

"It's really, really disappointing," he says. "We're all supposed to be a tight unit and, no."

He says Little broke his promise to get his brother out.

"He made that statement that they would get those guys out of the mine, and to come back now and just do this is very low."

In 2011, then-Prime Minister John Key made a promise to the families: "We are committed to getting the boys out."

In 2017, Little made one too: "We are committed to getting into the mine if that's at all possible."

Mining experts Newshub has spoken to say it is feasible to get into the mine beyond the drift - more so now than ever before. 

Dean Dunbar, whose son Joseph was just 17 when he was killed in the mine, says they were "fed a bunch of lies" 10 years ago. When Labour came to power his hopes were renewed - but those hopes are now dashed. 

"History is repeating itself and I have no idea why minister Little has picked up that National Government handbook and run with that," Dunbar says. 

Little was asked at the meeting if it's just money holding the Government back.

"Ultimately it is," he said, "Because the political will to put more money into the project is not there."

There doesn't even appear to be the political will to find out how much it would cost to go further.

Newshub wanted to ask Little why not at least do a feasibility study. His office promised a couple of interview slots this morning, but then radio silence.