Robot recovery brings us one step closer to truth – Pike families – Stand with Pike


The second military robot to be sent into the Pike River drift in the days after the explosion has been recovered by the reentry team. The robot was lost in the drift on November 24 2010 – just five days after the mine exploded.

Pike River widow Anna Osborne says the recovery of the robot shows the reentry is working. “For years we were told that the drift was too dangerous to enter. This shows that we can get in and we can get evidence out.

“The last time this robot saw the light of day we were being told by the mine management that our men would still be alive down there eating their crib. It was the start of years of lies that are finally being put to rest by this recovery.”

Pike River mum Sonya Rockhouse says the progress has been welcomed by families. “The project is well underway, there are four more robots to come and then Russell Smith’s loader and then we are into unseen territory including the room that contains electrical gear and other evidence.

“This is what we fought for, it’s the chance to get to the truth of what killed the men and boys we loved and hopefully to hold someone accountable for it.”

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Rowdy Durbridge lost his boy in Pike and worked in the mine himself, he says the recovery team are doing justice to the men who died. “We’ve all known for years that we could get into the drift safely, but now to see these boys getting the job done, it makes me proud we stuck to our guns.”

Footage of the robot in the drift is available at 3’10” into this video

Photographs of the recovered robot are here and here

Sonya Rockhouse’s editorial explaining the evidential value of the recovery is here:


  1. “Robot recovery brings us one step closer to truth”

    The truth being that this was only ever a cynical political stunt that will cost a fortune and achieve nothing.

    • your motivation for commenting was Political Andrew … In the opposite way to the late Helen kelly ,,, who cared about workers ,,, and the laws which provide them some protections.
      ” She was horrified by the Pike River situation where charges were dropped against the former CEO in return for the $3.41 million insurance pay out,” he says.” ,,,, ” She wouldn’t accept what she considered blood money over justice.”,-1964-2016

    • The Pike River dead were killed by ‘red tape cutting’ / deregulation and a de-funded downsized Government mining department ineffective at enforcement ,,, combine this with incompetence and disregard for their workers safety from the mines owners and management, and we have the uber / perfect storm to the point of criminal negligence. Manslaughter.

      Market driven manslaughter where non-compliance met a Government non-enforcement, which was Nationals ideology and style of Governing ,,,

      Andrew is the “stunt” ,,, here is a list of the victims
      Conrad Adams, 43, Greymouth
      Malcolm Campbell, 25, Scotland
      Glen Cruse, 35, Cobden
      Allan Dixon, 59, Runanga
      Zen Drew, 21, Greymouth
      Christopher Duggan, 31, Greymouth
      Joseph Dunbar, 17, Greymouth
      John Hale, 45, Ruatapu
      Daniel Herk, 36, Runanga
      David Hoggart, 33, Foxto
      Richard Holling, 41, Blackball
      Andrew Hurren, 32, Hokitika
      Jacobus Jonker, 47, South Africa
      William Joynson, 49, Dunollie (Australia)
      Riki Keane, 28, Greymouth
      Terry Kitchin, 41, Runanga
      Samuel Mackie, 26, Greymouth
      Francis Marden, 41, Runanga
      Michael Monk, 23, Greymouth

      “Pike River – How could this happen in this day and age?”

  2. The mine bosses must be well gone now living somewhere in the Mediterranean.

    Cushioned from being at “ground zero” as the truth unfolds about to be told soon I believe.

    But they didn’t ever want the truth to be told as the guilty often choose to take the – “dont tell” ,

    So this is another shade of the police ‘over-kill’ again as shown when they raided Nikky Hagar’s home and family and Martyn Bradburys as well.

    “When will they ever learn” ??????

  3. Who cares we have a right to know the truth people went to work and didn’t come home this ain’t and should never be the norm. We need to know and we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again same with the chch earthquake building that wasn’t up to standards people need to be held accountable and if not as above make sure it never ever happens again.

    • We need to know the truth of these events. And show that we care about people doing dangerous jobs that are regarded as part of the essential resources the country needs. And we even need to care about Andrew, though perhaps not quite as much as I don’t know if his negative responses are essential or not. And the police – they made an assessment that it was a Very Dangerous Situation and that they didn’t want their personnel endangered. Then stopped anybody else. I don’t know how come we go to war so blithely; health and safety would never approve it if allowed to run their eyes over the plans and problems.

      One thing to bear in mind in NZ is that we have to have, not a crack team of AOS from the police, but spend on another separate one that will undertake an assessment of how to carry out things as soon as the police pass on any accident. The team of brave but also experienced people will be called on for the hard yards. They might be an adjunct to the Landsar teams. However they would not be volunteers, as the job goes beyond that. They would be the sort of team that would have been called in quickly to Whakaari Island instead of the locals being left to it. These extreme cases are not really within the remit of the Police who have a limited budget for rescues, and are exposed to criticism and have to be right all the time so they can retain their air of superiority and invincibility. And if the police pass, then the new people will just have to look for evidence of illegal activity if they have time. It may be that a legal case can not be brought but mining firms, and others like Whakaari may have to pay into a bond scheme before they start operating so at least they are encouraged to maintain safety procedures – it would then be added to through a safety licence fee each year.

      • We must honour the workers and their families as they are long suffering citizens of ours so good on the Government pushing on to find the truth.

        • I do not understand how spending $51 million for little return helps workers. I feel it was an election promise without any merit as Little himself has said it is unlikely actual bodies will be returned . Perhaps if the union headed by Little had been more proactive the men would still be alive.

  4. What is this @ Andrew ?- the 1820’s?, – where we can have a few dozen Welsh miners get blown away, blame it on the foreman after conducting a sham investigation by the mines owners and any fault by them being whitewashed, – then after the mass funerals have taken place reopen them again?

    Only to have a few more dozen nameless Welsh workers get blown to blazes a year or so later?

    Is that your idea of the modern society being a nation governed by the rule of law? Or is this your free market deregulated neo liberalism functioning exactly as it should be?

    What alien craft did you and your ilk come down on, bud?

    I thought your lot were supposed to help us advance, – not regress.

  5. Trevor Sennitt is either ignorant or a liar ,,, spreading whale oil type bullshit ,,,,, instead of learning from the preventable disaster, is pretty disgusting ,,, he shows contempt for the dead workers and their bereaved familys ,,, thank christ this shit flicker plays no part in the future safety of workers lives.

    An effective business culture, and an effective health
    and safety culture, starts with the board,….None of the directors had experience in underground coal mining …

    “The company’s Health and Safety Manager Neville
    Rockhouse didn’t have the support he needed from
    management to do his job properly.”

    “Neville Rockhouse believed in staff participation and ownership of the safety culture. He actively promoted having union representation on site and in attendance at the health and safety sub-committee. This was sidelined, when Rockhouse received an email from PeterWhittall in which he clearly stated “Please do not use the union in the same sentence as
    anything at Pike.”

    The managment was anti union and used Nationals union hostile employment laws to fight them ,,, along with other union weakening Dangerous staffing decisions.

    Ie:”good mining practice should dictate mandatory induction to site and company safety protocols for all contract resource. 19 There was also the expectation that contractors comply with the same code of conduct and health and safety policies as permanent staff. Pike River did not have this practice in place by the time the explosion occurred, yet nearly half
    (13 out of 29) of the men killed were contract staff.”

    “Neville Rockhouse, who had two sons working as miners at Pike River, found it increasingly difficult to be effective in his role. As it emerged at the Inquiry, not only did he lack anysupport from Peter Whittall, but the CE frequently mocked and bullied him.”

    “Only five out of a thousand incident reports were ever reviewed.”

    I challenge anyone to watch the video, compare it to trevors comment ,,, and judge for yourself ,,,, what it says about him and his true feelings towards NZ workers safety.

    • Andrew Little was head of the EPMU which gave no support to the miners that walked off the job in 2009. In fact he complemented PRC for the good health and safety they had organised.

  6. I have had long conversations with a family member and others who worked in the Pike mine. Safeguards were dismantled and when gas readings were high men were not evacuated. Recorders were disconnected under orders from the Office.
    When the family member brought this up at a site meeting he was pulled to one side and threatened if he spoke to the union. He was taken through a disciplinary hearing conducted at the mine office in Greymouth with Mine lawyers present but he was not allowed to bring the union lawyer. Unemployment was high in Greymouth so workers had to watch their step and obey the mine office edicts.
    The consensus of many workers at the mine was that a disaster was imminent and probably a deliberate ploy to force opening up the conservation state to open cast mining.

  7. Spending money on workers who lost their lives going to work in an unsafe environment will never be a waste of money especially when we can spend money on a flag and a sheep farm with nothing to show for it. Yes the miners will probably remain entombed but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our very best to find the truth and make sure we learn from this and make sure this never ever happens again.

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