Rescue authorities are vowing to recover the bodies of the 29 miners - but admit they don't know when it will happen.

An emotional Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall promised the miners' families that he "wasn't going anywhere" until he brought the men home.

Mr Whittall could not give an indication of when teams would enter the mine to begin recovering the bodies. "We want our boys back, and we want them out," he said.

Mr Whittall, who broke down several times while discussing the tragedy yesterday, reassured the victims' families that the company would do whatever it could to recover the bodies.

"I still want them back and their families want them back and we'll be doing everything we can to make that happen. My love and support are with those guys."

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the recovery of the bodies was of utmost importance to the families.

"The feeling this morning is one of closure but we want the miners out of the mines and into the loving arms of the families," he told the Herald.

"The authorities have told us they will pull every stop they can to actually make that happen."

"We are in shock, we have been embracing this for a week and it's been a rollercoaster ride with hope, hoplessness and grief and expectation."

West Coast-Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole hoped the mine would reopen as soon as it was appropriate.

He said the coal seam was still a viable source of income for the area.

"The coal seam is still there. Coal is extremely valuable and the Pike River mine is a $300 million-plus investment."

Mr Auchinvole would not speculate on when the mine would be operational again.

And he stopped short of promising it would reopen at all if all the bodies could not be recovered.

But he hoped the families would have a say in when the mine opened again for business.

"I don't doubt for a moment that the company will take into account the family aspect. That information will be paramount."

Mining is a way of life on the West Coast. Most of the 15,000 inhabitants of Grey District have a link to the mines.

Mr Auchinvole said the West Coast would be wearing the tragedy as a badge of sorrow for a very long time.

"To some extent it's a huge cultural experience for New Zealand overall, to learn that mines are not simply holes in the ground," he said.

"They are living entities, dangerous entities. That's why miners have such mana."