14 Jun 2018

Pike River tragedy not dealt with properly: adviser

3:49 pm on 14 June 2018

The adviser to the government on the Pike River Mine re-entry programme says New Zealand has not dealt with the tragedy properly.

Pike River Mine near Greymouth in November 2010.

Pike River Mine near Greymouth in November 2010. Photo: AFP

Former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe has joined mining specialists and Pike River Recovery Agency staff on the West Coast for a second workshop on developing a plan towards manned re-entry of the Pike River mine drift.

A panel of technical experts met in Greymouth at the start of May to begin a concept plan for a safe, manned re-entry to the mine that exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

They also wanted to find out more about what happened to prevent any further tragedies, to give the families closure and possibly retrieve any remains found in the drift.

Mr Fyfe, who also dealt with the Air New Zealand Airbus crash in France in 2008, said he wanted to make a difference.

Air New Zealand was involved in helping with the aftermath of the Pike River mining disaster, he said.

The company had several hundred staff trained in victim support, in the event there was a large-scale aircraft disaster.

Rob Fyfe

Former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe. Photo: AFP

Mr Fyfe said 30 of the airline's team came to Pike River to help the families, and he spent a fair bit of time in the area supporting the team.

"That meant I got connected to a number of the families, and I genuinely believe that this is an issue that as a nation we haven't dealt with appropriately and so I wanted to contribute to see if we could do a better job for the families," Mr Fyfe said.

The role and input of effort for this case was personal for him, he said.

"I bring a lot of heart and emotion to anything I do, be it job or my personal life, but this is something that really matters."

Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn said he was happy with progress so far, but there was still a long way to go before a preferred option emerged.

He said they remained on track to begin the re-entry later in the year, with completion next March.

The workshop continues today at Rapahoe, near Greymouth.

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