8 Feb 2017

29 Pike River effigies 'really hits home'

6:57 pm on 8 February 2017

Solid Energy trucks heading for Pike River turned back after being confronted with effigies of the 29 men who died in the mine's fatal explosion.

The effigies were part of an ongoing protest by some of the family members of those who died, to prevent Solid Energy, which owns the mine, from entering the site.

The mine exploded in 2010 and Solid Energy, which owned the mine, has maintained since then entering it would not be safe.

Two trucks and three men approached the picket line this morning, but, upon seeing the effigies, turned around.

Protesters had not seen them since.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the mine, said the effigies were a powerful statement to the government that the families were not going anywhere.

"Twenty-nine seems quite a small amount until we put 29 effigies up on the road", Mrs Osborne said.

"Our loved ones deserve a lot better and the government doesn't appear to be listening to families".

Effigies of the 29 victims at the road leading to the Pike River mine on 8 February 2017.

Effigies of the 29 victims at the road leading to the Pike River mine. Photo: Supplied

The families wanted truth, justice and accountability for their men, Mrs Osborne said.

"This is New Zealand, not a third world country, and we don't leave dead men lying there without any investigation."

Bernie Monk, whose son died in the disaster, said the 29 effigies made an impact.

"When you see these big guys standing on the road, 29 of them, it really hits home. It was quite emotional."

Mrs Osborne believed the mine was not too dangerous to enter, and it could reveal important evidence to reveal "the culprits" who caused the miners' deaths.

"If there were men waiting to come out [at the top of the drift], and no one went to rescue them, to me that's manslaughter."

Prime Minster Bill English plans to meet with some of the family members next week in Wellington.

Meanwhile, Solid Energy has had to ask for more time to permanently seal the Pike River Mine.

Solid Energy said it had been prevented from putting the final seal in place within the original timeframe, which was this month.

Worksafe said it now had until the end of June to do so.

Mr Monk said he believed their sustained protests had caused the delay.

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