21 Nov 2011

Ceremonies held to remember Pike River men

8:23 am on 21 November 2011

The first anniversary of the Pike River mine disaster was marked in emotional ceremonies in Greymouth on Saturday.

The 29 men who died in the explosions at the West Coast coal mine were remembered at a private ceremony for their families at the mine.

A memorial was also unveiled and a public gathering was held at the town's Rugby Park where about 2000 people attended.

Dignitaries at that event included the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Prime Minister John Key, and the Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn.

In an emotional address Sir Jerry said every life is precious and any loss is devastating for those left behind.

He said all New Zealand joined Greymouth in honouring their men's memory.

At 3.44pm - the exact time of the first explosion - there was two minutes of silence.

The ceremony ended with the families of the victims and the public placing a piece of coal in the back of a vintage coal truck, as a symbol of letting go of some of the pain and moving a step forward.

Earlier, Mr Key unveiled a memorial beside the road south of the town, comprising a sculpture of a coal miner.

Beside it are 29 red and 29 white roses. There were prayers and wreaths laid.