Family and friends of the Pike River 29 are protesting at the gates near the ill-fated West Coast mine in one desperate, final attempt to stop it from being sealed.
Widows Anna Osborne, who is fighting blood cancer, and Sonya Rockhouse are among the group calling for the mine not to be sealed in the hope evidence of a loved one could one day still be recovered.
Sat with others on the road to the mine and refusing to move, Osborne says the Pike families accept the main workings of the mine are still too dangerous too re-enter but a previously unexplored area before it – known as “the drift” – needs to be looked at.
“It’s a last-ditch effort to try and stop the seal going in, mainly because there’s still unexplored ground in the drift, there’s the possibility of someone’s loved-one being in there,” Osborne said.
Next Saturday is the sixth anniversary of the Pike River disaster. Osborne, whose husband Milton was one of the Pike River 29, says the blockade is their last option.
“If they want to seal our boys in that mine they’ll have to run us down to do it.
“The first couple of kilometres of mine is safe to enter. Both the former head of WorkSafe’s mine inspectors and the three international experts we’ve consulted have agreed on that.
“The bodies of our boys – my husband, Sonya’s son – could be in that safe stretch of mine. There could be evidence showing what happened in there, which we still don’t have clear answers on. Why would you lock that off with hundreds of tonnes of concrete?”