19 Nov 2011

Up to 5000 could attend Pike River anniversary

11:01 am on 19 November 2011

A large crowd is expected at a special commemoration of the Pike River mining disaster in Greymouth on Saturday.

It will mark one year since the first explosions tore through the West Coast mine, killing 29 men working inside.

The remains of the men have still not been recovered.

Families of the men will unveil a special memorial and attend a service at the local rugby ground.

A sculpture portraying a coalminer at work will be installed on a rectangular concrete plinth in a private ceremony.

Later, an estimated 2500 people will gather at the town's rugby grounds for a special service although organisers have printed 5000 programmes in case there are many more.

There will be speeches by church ministers, the Governor-General, a union official, and the Grey district mayor.

There will be two minutes silence and then representatives of the bereaved families will symbolically place lumps of coal into an old chevy coaling truck.

Archdeacon Tim Mora, who will help lead the service, says the first anniversary is an important time for everyone to acknowledge all their losses.

The head of community welfare agency Focus Trust, Kathryn Leafe, says the long-term impacts of the disaster on people's psychological and economic wellbeing will take years to work themselves out.