6 Nov 2017

Andrew Little meets Pike River families

1:09 pm on 6 November 2017

Minister for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little has met with some of the victims' families this morning to discuss the plan to go back into the mine.

Andrew Little (2nd right) with Pike River family representatives (from left) Anna Osborne, Bernie Monk and Sonya Rockhouse.

Andrew Little (2nd right) with Pike River family representatives (from left) Anna Osbourne, Bernie Monk and Sonya Rockhouse. Photo: RNZ / Benedict Collins

Twenty-nine men were killed in explosions at the mine in November 2010.

At Parliament this morning, Mr Little met the relatives for the first time in his ministerial capacity. They discussed setting up a legal entity to take control of re-entering the mine, the first step in the project.

"We're just taking advice on that at the moment. I'll have some discussions with The Right Honourable Winston Peters and then hopefully Cabinet will make a decision about that in the next week or two about what that looks like and what its scope of responsibilities is."

From there, he said, the technical planning work would begin for the re-entry using advisers and specialists the families had been consulting.

Mr Little said the government was going to engage the families every step of the way, and ensure they were involved in every decision.

"In the end, because of the way this has been handled, this is important to all New Zealand.

"The way the aftermath of this tragic disaster has happened has not been good and we've got to make amends and we will do that by doing justice to the families and today we've started that process,"

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the disaster, said the families finally felt like they were being listened to after seven years and were now part of a team.

"It feels great to be in this position, knowing that we've got a minister who we solely trust," Mrs Osborne said.

"The families have all discussed Mr Little being our minister for the re-entry and the families are all on board.

"We're excited now just to get it underway and happening."