“It is not the time to join the Jackals of vengeance. Let us do it like adults, rather than like a bunch of braying hounds. Let us find the answers as carefully as we can, if there are answers, and let us move on.”
Those were the words of University of Canterbury (Maori) Assistant Vice Chancellor Sir Tipene O’Regan, spoken at the Christchurch Memorial Service for the lost Miners on December 6 at the Christchurch Cathedral.
Nearly 1000 mourners including close family and friends and former workmates attended the Service. It was evident that some responsibility to the disaster was essential, but Sir Tipene believed that the society should stay away from an eye-for-an-eye, teeth-for-a-teeth response.
Greymouth resident Rachel Coleman sobbed when she said, “Playing the blame game would not bring my brother Blair Sims, back”.
Brenda Rackley, partner of Pike River Truck contractor John Hale, said, ”I am upset and angry, but I do not want to change my opinion about (Pike River Mine Chief Executive) Peter Whittall”.
Early last week, Christchurch lawyer Grant Cameron said that families associated with the tragedy approached him. He represented families for the Cave Creek Commission of Inquiry in 1995.
H said he had concerns about the Police “preventing a rescue operation following the first explosion.”
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker described Grey District Mayor as his ‘mate.’
He said, “Southern Alps are no longer a great divide between Canterbury and the West Coast. I was thinking, “Have we ever been through a harder spring for the people in the South Island after the Pike River disaster, the Canterbury earthquake, the Fox Glacier plane crash and the Southland snowfalls?’. We, the people of Canterbury stand beside the West Coasters”.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said many West Coasters used to move to Canterbury as a “stepping stone” in their lives.
“But there is an old saying, ‘you can take the boy out of the West Coast, but you can’t take the West Coast out of the boy.’ The Canterbury schools have a way to go on this long and winding road, but as they walk, we will match them stride for stride”, he said.
It has been a hard time for Christchurch resident India Wood (20), who worked closely with lost miner Ben Rockhouse, at the Hoyts Cinema on Moorhouse in Christchurch just last year. She sobbed remembering saying good-bye to Ben, when he resigned the job to move to the Coast “to make a few dollars”.
“Ben would have wanted something like this;, it is very respectful for his family. I know how close Ben was to all of them,” she told Indian Newslink.
Margo Parker and Pat McIntyre from Edinburgh in Scotland, who now live in Waikuku in North Canterbury, were among the hundreds of people who attended the Service to honour the two Scotsmen killed in the Pike River Mine.
Dr George Abraham is our Correspondent based in Christchurch. He closely followed the Pike River Mine Tragedy as it unfolded on November 19, visited Greymouth several times, attended press conferences and spoke to leaders and victims of the families of miners who perished in the disaster. Related reports appear in our Homelink pages in this issue.