Police get ready to reopen Pike River investigation

Craig McCulloch

Wellington, June 17, 2018

The Police are gearing up to reopen their investigation into the explosion at Pike River, in anticipation of the planned re-entry of the mine later this year.

Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers visited Greymouth last week to meet the Pike River Recovery Agency and victims’ families.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read, who led the initial inquiry into the disaster in which 29 miners died, also attended.

That investigation concluded in 2013 with no charges being laid.

Role of Police

The Police said if re-entry was achieved they would complete their scene investigation and assess any new evidence and its impact on the original inquiry.

In a statement, a Police Spokesperson confirmed that the officers met with the Agency on June 13, 2018 to discuss the Police’s role in the planned re-entry.

“Police would have a dual role should re-entry to the drift be achieved,” the statement said.

“One involves completion of the scene examination in relation to the original police investigation. The other role involves management of any processes required on behalf of the Coroner. Any new evidence which is identified would be assessed to determine what, if any relevance it had on the original investigation which concluded in July 2013.”

Seconding an Officer

Police said they were also considering seconding an officer to work closely, albeit remotely, with the Agency in the lead-up to the operation.

Commissioner Mike Bush also met with some of the family members in December 2017 to underline the police commitment.

Both Mr Chambers and Mr Read also met with two Pike River family members Bernie Monk and Anna Osborne.

“This was to hear their views, as well as reiterate our commitment to working with the Pike River Recovery Agency and the families in support of re-entry planning.”

But Mr Monk, who speaks on behalf of some of the family members, said there was still a lot of ill-feeling toward the police after they “walked away from us” in 2013.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before we accept the police coming back into our lives,” Bernie Monk said.

“We have found it very difficult in the past to get dialogue, to get transparency… we have always regarded [the mine] as a crime scene and it hasn’t been handled well.”

Craig McCulloch is Political Reporter at Radio New Zealand. Indian Newslink has published the above Report and Picture under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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Photo Caption:

Photo: Andrew Little/ Twitter

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