Pike re-entry 'a long time coming' - Sonya Rockhouse

Morning Talk 14/11/2018

A mother of a Pike River mine victim has praised the news that the re-entry plan will go ahead, in hopes for the possibility of closure and justice.

Sonya Rockhouse lost her son Ben in the 2010 disaster, while her other son Daniel survived.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Mrs Rockhouse told RadioLIV E. “We’re just ecstatic. It’s just the best news.”

On Wednesday morning, Pike River Minister Andrew Little announced that the Government will go ahead with a plan to re-enter the Pike River mine after reviewing three options.

After considering whether sending experts into the drift would be safe, Mr Little confirmed that a “single entry” re-entry plan has been approved.

The re-entry could mean finally recovering the remains of the Pike River victims, while also collecting forensic evidence for further investigation. Police commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed that manslaughter charges are possible after evidence is collected.

"Our case is open, and everything will be based on evidence," Mr Bush told Newshub.

Andrew Little announced the plans on Wednesday.

For many mourning relatives, the further investigation could mean holding those responsible to account.

Pike River families spokesman Bernie Monk, who lost his son Michael in the mine, hopes the mission will uncover more evidence of what went wrong - and any wrongdoing.

"We're happy that one of our experts is going in with them to uncover what we think has been a huge cover-up right from day one," he says.

Families of the victims slammed the police in September after an investigation was launched into whether police were responsible for a second explosion at the mine.

The investigation probed whether a conveyor belt inside the mine was started up, which could have created a spark which ignited methane and ended all hope of finding any of the men inside alive.

Mrs Rockhouse says she’s confident in the Government leading the re-entry efforts, noting their “transparency” and involvement with the families affected.

“Let me just say this. If the past Government had done the right thing at the beginning, the cost of this would’ve been miniscule in comparison to what it is today.”

Listen to the full interview with Sonya Rockhouse above.

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