Saturday , September 18 2021

Barry Soper: Re-entering the Pike River is not welcome by everyone


After quarter past four, eight years ago, something that had never happened to us had happened deep in a coal mine on the West Coast.

The explosion in the Pike River mine sent echoes around the world and over the next few days the media from this country and abroad fled to Greymouth, leaving the sour taste in Coasters mouth.

Commander of the police district Garry Knowles became a familiar face of the tragedy in which 16 miners and 13 contractors died. He held it with admiration, especially when the Australian media clown asked him why the policeman was in charge of the action.

Knowles referred to the reporter as "Sir" and told him that he was responsible for three-quarters of the South Island.

The head of Pike River Coal, Peter Whittall, also became a familiar face, compassionate with the families of men who had died – only to turn to him when the fatal memory of the mine was under a microscope.

Whittall faced 12 charges, but they were abolished after the company paid nearly $ 3.5 million to the family – which the Supreme Court found unlawful, effectively paying to avoid prosecution.

The head of the trade union, who died several of its members in the mine, Andrew Little, will be back today in the service of memory, but this time as the minister responsible for re-entering the mine, which will take place at the beginning of next year.

The decision to enter the mine, but not the rock that was her working part, was not welcomed by everyone affected by this weird day.

Marion Curtin, the mother of 41-year-old Richard Holling who was killed, said she could not believe the lack of common sense and even the common sense behind it. She is embarrassed by the expenses of $ 36 million, which, she said in a touching interview, could have been more wise to spend on the living than on the dead.

Curtin says it's a vain exercise, and she is surprised by what they expect. She said it was inappropriate and repulsive to poke at the mine, picking up a sack of ashes to give the families.

It is a sacrilege, he says, to disrupt the graves of the dead miners; they should have permission to rest in peace.

Curtin thinks other families feel the same, but they do not want to talk.

The older mother says she thinks about Richard with love every day – it's a good day for her, she says when she can not hear anything about Pike River.

Today it will be difficult for her.

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