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Pike River anniversary: what have we become?

Written By: - Date published: 10:08 am, November 19th, 2016 - 17 comments
Categories: disaster, health and safety - Tags: ,

Posted on the #StandWithPike page this morning:

Six years ago this morning, 31 men went to work in a coal mine.

29 of them still lay there.

Since Daniel and Russell stumbled alone, unhelped, out of the drift that afternoon, no-one has ever gone back up… not to attempt a rescue, not to investigate the crime scene, not to bring the dead men home.

Doug White and Peter Whittall, the men responsible for this worksite that just killed nearly its entire workforce, were effectively given control of the rescue. They insisted none be attempted, then after all reasonable hope was gone insisted the mine not be sealed, causing an inevitable series of massive explosions and fires.

Peter Whittall was allowed to opt out of testifying to the Royal Commission because he might incriminate himself.

When he was finally charged with 29 counts of manslaughter, Worksafe did a secret deal with his insurance company the night before Court, allowing him to buy his way out of these severe criminal charges for $100k per head. He was immediately allowed to leave the country a free man.

To this day no-one has been held accountable. No-one has served a day in jail. No attempt has been made to recover the men. The closest anyone has come to arrest was mother Sonya Rockhouse and widow Anna Osborne, threatened with it last week by Minister Nick Smith for desperately trying to stop “the coffin lid being slammed shut” on their men.

The world’s foremost expert on mine ventilation says the drift can be safely re-entered and searched. New Zealand’s former Chief Mines Inspector says it can be done and he’d be “honoured” to lead the mission. John Key says “his advice” says it’s too dangerous to be considered.

On Monday next week, Solid Energy intend to mark the anniversary by beginning to unload over one hundred truckloads of concrete into the mine’s only entrance, creating a twenty metre thick, solid floor-to-ceiling wall, blocking it forever.

The families want justice, they want the truth, and they want their men home, out of the crime scene that killed them.

New Zealand, what have we become when any of this is too much for them to ask of us?

17 comments on “Pike River anniversary: what have we become? ”

  1. Incognito 1

    John Key, Dr Nick Smith, and Solid Energy want to seal the (only) entrance to the mine not because it is too dangerous to enter but because they fear what might ‘exit’.

    It is literally burying the evidence of what really happened and John Key ought to put “his advice” out, with name & credentials. My guess is that he won’t because he has got none professional “advice” whatsoever to back up his stand. Why is John Key not open & transparent about this? Why does he not keep his promise?

    Despicable actions by some weak men.

    • mary_a 1.1

      100% agree Incognito (1)

    • Rae 1.2

      100% and I think that is what we should focus on. I believe it should remain able to be accessed, even if it means a fairly large no go without a permit area around it. At some point we would have the technology (if we don’t have it now) to examine the drift at the very least. I do believe those families have the right to the truth and if we can’t deliver them that, then we must demonstrate that EVERYTHING possible has been done to discover it. We have not done that.
      I am adamant about this and will never sway from it. I am now going to consider the actions being taken as a bloody big cover up. Government, prove me wrong!

    • Leftie 1.3

      John key is a habitual, compulsive liar.

    • infused 1.4

      you arm chair experts are a laugh.

  2. Xanthe 2

    Two things must not be overlooked

    1 Pike river mine was the crown jewel in a Labour governments neoconservative agenda. They pushed it through and they dismantled the govt oversight of health and safety. Pike river is Labour govts shamefull legacy.
    2 Everyone involved seems to have bought the line that only a drift exploration is possible. Thats crap! the mine itself must be examined and it is IMHO quite possible to do so.

    • Leftie 2.1

      Seriously Xanthe, you are blaming Labour for the National government’s failures and lies?

      Does not wash.

      • Xanthe 2.1.1

        No Leftie i am not ! I agree National has let us all down in its response to the disaster.
        The point i feel should not be forgotton is that Pike River mine was the Labour government’s poster child for the brave new deregulated market forces way of doing things. It was a Labour government that set that disaster in waiting up! National inherited it (and then did nothing to mitigate )

  3. Olwyn 3

    I am utterly horrified whenever I read of this. It is as if the only things ready when this awful tragedy happened were a PR initiative and a few mechanisms for avoiding accountability – with saving the workers’ lives or ensuring that it never happens again not even on the list. And it seems we have nothing, nothing at our disposal that will allow for an honest look at how it happened and a genuine show of respect to those who have suffered so badly, and for so long. The Key government should be getting a real hammering for this from all quarters, given its acquiescence in the conditions that led to the tragedy, and the years of hollow promises and letdowns to which it has since subjected these grieving people.

  4. Cinny 4


    Much love to all involved, thinking of you all today. Brave souls, kia kaha

  5. mary_a 5

    Thoughts with all those closely involved in the Pike River tragedy.

    Kia Kaha.

  6. doc 6

    john key’s advisers are lawyers say no more…..

  7. DH 7

    I’ve been trying to figure out what the Govt is so afraid of. The explosions and fires would have destroyed most if not all of the evidence of the cause(s) of the disaster so they can’t be concerned about that. Something has the wind up them though… what?

    I keep coming back to the self rescue kits (SCSRs). IIRC both survivors said they found their SCSRs to be useless* and that leads to an assumption that any others surviving the explosion may also have found the rescue kits a failure.

    That is an area where proof and evidence will still exist; any body discovered with an opened self-rescue kit could likely suggest a failure of the equipment that should have saved them. The ramifications of that could be wide ranging.

    I’d have thought it imperative to discover if anyone else did deploy their SCSRs and efforts made to ascertain why they didn’t work if that proves to be the case. It could save lives in the future.

    * Daniel Rockhouse reported that it didn’t provide him with enough oxygen so he discarded it. (They wouldn’t be easy to use in that kind of environment, I’m a diver and I’m not sure I could use one either.)

  8. mosa 8

    Pike River “what have we become”

    NZ is no different in dealing with disaster now then we were in 1979 with Erebus that resulted in a terrible loss of life and no one ever being held accountable for that terrible accident and subsequent attempted cover up.

    Laying the blame at an innocent pilot for such a terrible loss of life and the effect that had on his family for over 30 years just to protect the government and Air New Zealand under another National PM the right honorable Sir Robert Muldoon.

    The difference was that the royal commision of inquiry of the great Justice Mahon was able to expose the cover up and lies told under oath and an examination of the crash site , a process denied the Pike River families.

  9. JC 9

    What Prime Minister John Key told the Pike River families and did not do…



    Sadly few, if any…, of Mahon’s integrity left.

    “The palpably false sections of evidence which I heard could not have been the result of mistake, or faulty recollection. They originated, I am compelled to say, in a pre-determined plan of deception. They were very clearly part of an attempt to conceal a series of disastrous administrative blunders and so… I am forced reluctantly to say that I had to listen to an orchestrated litany of lies.”


  10. greg 10

    cave creek was another cover up people die every time national are in power god look at the suicide rate national are a disaster for the nation

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