Note: This story was first published on Thursday April 19
There were emotional scenes at the Pike River Mine on the West Coast as Pike River Re-Entry Minister Andrew Little and family members of those who died in the 2010 disaster entered the portal for the first time since the deadly explosion.
Source: 1 NEWS
Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse, who lost their husband and son respectively, were in tears as they went into the mine.
They were allowed about 30 metres in. After that it is sealed in concrete.
They said it felt like a big step forward and being so close to where there men died was extremely emotional.
Touching the walls inside the mine, Ms Osborne and Ms Rockhouse said it felt like the walls were moving. Both were crying as they hugged Mr Little after the visit.
Mr Little said he wanted to see inside the mine for himself and felt completely safe going inside. He denied it was a political stunt.
"This is about knowing that you as the families can be sure that everything that can be done has been done to recover the remains of your loved ones, and if not to do that, at least get a better understanding of what might have happened," Mr Little said as he addressed relatives today.
Andrew Little hugs Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse after spending about 15 minutes inside the entrance to Pike River mine.
Source: 1 NEWS
"We know too there are some families who are not so keen on this project going ahead, they want their loved ones to lie where they have fallen and I get that.
"We don't want to trample on anybody's mana, any family's honour. We want to do this the right way."
Maori Public Health boss Lance Norman told politicians today that 35 per cent of Maori still smoke, along with 25 per cent of Pasifika and 12-13 per cent of all other ethnicities.