Dobbyn fretted over Pike tribute

17:00, Apr 14 2014
Dave Dobbyn
PIKE TRIBUTE: Singer-songwriter Dave Dobbyn.

Kiwi rock star Dave Dobbyn has worried whether his new composition on the Pike River coalmine disaster does it justice.

He got his answer last Friday while standing at the mine's portal in the depths of the West Coast's forest.

"I was almost asking the miners' permission whether I've done the right thing. I had that feeling they will approve," he told The Press yesterday.

Dobbyn spent the past four days on the West Coast meeting many families of the 29 men killed when the mine exploded on November 19, 2010. Their bodies remain entombed inside the mine in the Paparoa Range, inland from Greymouth.

Late last year, Dobbyn was commissioned to create a tribute piece about Pike River for the Wellington-based Orpheus Choir's Dreams Lie Deeper concert, which will be held on May 10 at Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre in honour of miners worldwide.

Dobbyn said that when the choir invited him to compose the piece, he was nervous "but I leapt in boots and all".


Soon after, he headed to the West Coast to seek inspiration, visiting the mine and meeting some Pike families.

The words started flowing easily.

"I had plenty to inspire me".

He also read Rebecca Macfie's book on Pike River for a blow-by-blow account of what led up to the disaster.

On Saturday, Dobbyn attended a family meeting at the Holy Trinity Church in Greymouth, where he explained his musical tribute.

He also entertained with some songs, and again later that night at an informal gathering and on Sunday, at the unveiling of a plaque at the Pike River memorial garden at Atarau to thank the Berry family for donating the land and helping to create it.

Although his new song remained under wraps until its May 10 premiere, he gave some hints about the lyrics.

"I wanted to memorialise the 29 men and to give hope to the families. They've had enough grief."

The 8-minute piece would start with Dobbyn and his band, then the choir would join in for the choruses.

A 50-strong children's choir, the Wellington Young Voices, would also sing a verse and there would also be an instrumental section by the Wellington Brass Band.

"There'll be about 160 people on stage."

About 50 members of Pike River families and their supporters would head to Wellington for the concert.

The Press