Pike families grieve on second anniversary

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 16:02 19/11/2012
Pike River memorial plaque
John Kirk-Anderson

NOT FORGOTTEN: The Pike River memorial garden at Atarau is a poignant tribute to the lost men.

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About 160 family and friends of those killed in the Pike River mine explosion gathered today to mark the tragedy's second anniversary.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn, who did not attend the private service, said he encouraged families to mourn this year away from the public gaze.

‘‘I suggested that because I think they needed a bit of privacy from the media, the public and everyone. I think it’s very fitting that they just go and share their thoughts with other families’’

A new memorial monument on Greymouth’s floodwall to all 390 miners killed on the West Coast since the first death in 1864 would be unveiled on January 19, the 46th anniversary of the Strongman Mine blast that killed 19 men.

Of those, 245 men died in the Grey District and 145 in the Buller District, he said.

‘‘We didn't expect it to be that many when we started looking at this.''

Four of New Zealand’s seven worst mining disasters had occurred in the Grey District, including Brunner Mine in 1896, which killed 65 men, Dobson Mine in 1926, which killed nine men, Strongman and Pike River.

Kokshoorn said fundraising was still ongoing for the final $2 million needed for an $8 million miners memorial centre for Greymouth, which would include a two-court stadium, a technology room for remote tele-linking to sports coaching and new civil defence headquarters.

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- The Press

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