Renowned New Zealand actor and film director Ian Mune was today scathing of the Government and the bureaucracy behind the Pike River Mine disaster as he joined picketers on site in attempting to prevent the mine entrance from being permanently sealed.
Mune is the latest prominent figure to wade into the Pike River quagmire as some families and supporters of the 29 men who died in the 2010 underground explosion continue to protest against attempts by Solid Energy to seal the portal with a thick plug of concrete.
Mune joined the picket line this morning to show his support and said he intended to stay for a few days at least to support the cause.
He said the Government needed to act to stop the sealing and explore the drift (mine entrance tunnel) for human remains and evidence of what went wrong.
"I've come to Pike River today to show that like many, many other New Zealanders I support these families. They deserve justice. It is shameful that they are having to fight so hard to get it," Mune said.
He took a broadside at the continued role of the Government in "covering up" Pike River as something no New Zealander could be happy with.
"I've always been proud of being a New Zealander and proud of New Zealand - the idea of fair play, respect, honour."
However it looked to him that politicians were going "to bury" those principles behind tonnes of concrete, Mune said.
He also found it "extraordinary" that the first act of new Prime Minister Bill English after taking power was to expressly make an order not to meet with the mine family representatives who had travelled to Wellington last month.
"The Government can't just treat these grieving families as an irritant to be pushed aside. They have a right to be listened to. I'd like people to question, is that the way they bury our dead, by turning our backs on them?"
Accompanies by others at the picket line this morning, Mune went as far as they were allowed to go towards the mine entrance, as they watched Solid Energy vehicles pass.
He described the drift as "an unexamined crime scene" and said its permanent sealing was "a travesty".
"There's expert advice that it's safe to enter the drift, and there may be evidence down there that could save lives in other mines."
He said those in power across the political spectrum were to some extent complicit in what had unfolded at Pike River, and the subsequent inquiry which had "covered up".
"Winston (Peters) has a few things to say. What he can back them up with, I don't know. Generally speaking I hear an almighty silence from the political (establishment) and it suggests to me that there is something rotten in the State of New Zealand and it's going to be buried."
The disaster at Pike River was enabled by the predecessor to Worksafe NZ, with nobody held to account.
"What's going on? Is that our values now - the new New Zealand, where no one will be accountable? One where evidence of their crime will be covered up in concrete?"
- Greymouth Star