Victims' families want action, not apology

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012

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Apologies appeared unimportant to the families of the men who died in the Pike River mine.

Instead, they wanted Prime Minister John Key to help find a way to get the men's bodies out of the mine.

Key and Attorney-General Chris Finlayson met with victims' families in Greymouth yesterday. Key apologised to the families of the 29 men who died in the November 2010 coalmine explosion.

Bernie Monk, spokesman for most of the victims' families, said yesterday's meeting was positive because Key had committed to helping fund any approved re-entry plan into the mine's tunnel.

He was pleased Key agreed with his suggestion to get all the experts around a table to iron out their disagreements and hoped it would progress efforts to get into the mine.

"We're past apologies, to be honest, and I think we're more interested in getting up the tunnel than any apology," said Monk, whose son Michael, 23, died in the explosion.

Milt Osborne's widow, Anna Osborne, said the meeting was emotional but also a chance to vent anger over the frustrations of the past two years.

She was pleased with Key's offer to fund the tunnel re-entry but refused to accept his apology.

"I personally didn't want an apology from him, to be honest, because it's far too late. It's two years down the track and it should have happened long before now.

"He made no promise this time to get into the main body of the mine and, of course, that's where most of our men are, so we've left him with a message that we're not going to go away.

"Everyone deserves the right to bury their loved ones and we will keep fighting for that, and he's gone away saying he understands that."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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