Govt to contribute $3.5m for Greymouth events centre

By Hayden Donnell

The West Coast Memorial Events Centre will help repair some of the damage last year's November 19 Pike River Mine disaster did to the West Coast economy, says economic development minister David Carter. Photo / Supplied
The West Coast Memorial Events Centre will help repair some of the damage last year's November 19 Pike River Mine disaster did to the West Coast economy, says economic development minister David Carter. Photo / Supplied

The Government has announced it will give $3.5 million towards a new events centre in Greymouth as a tribute to the men who died in the Pike River tragedy.

Economic development minister David Carter said building the centre would help repair some of the damage last year's November 19 coal mine disaster did to the West Coast economy.

It would be named the West Coast Memorial Events Centre to make sure the men who died in the Pike River mine, and in other West Coast mining disasters, were never forgotten, he said.

"The Pike River tragedy had a terrible human cost. In addition to the loss of lives, there was also a significant economic impact as a result of the mine's closure," says Mr Carter.

"We hope this new events centre will go some way towards helping the local community by creating job opportunities through its construction, including for firms directly affected by the closure of the mine.

It will also provide a much-needed community facility."

The construction of the events centre is projected to cost $5 million, with the remainder funded by West Coast organisations including Grey District Council.

Spokesman for the Pike River families Bernie Monk said the events centre was good news for Greymouth's struggling economy.

But he said it would not distract him from his campaign for a mission to recover the bodies of his son Michael and 28 other men from the Pike River mine

"I'm all in favour of it because the town's in desperate need for something like that - anything like that. I'll even go down and give them a hand.

"But it's not softening me up. Nobody's going to butter me up any other way but getting those men out of the mine."

Mr Carter said Government has worked in partnership with the local community on the project.

"We worked together looking at solutions to support the economy and create new jobs in the region. The concept of the events centre was the one the local community felt most strongly would create jobs for the people affected by the mine's closure, and provide an enduring memorial to West Coasters who have lost their lives in mining tragedies."

He thanked Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn and Development West Coast chair John Sturgeon for helping Government in the development of the proposal.

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