After learning his stepson was one of 29 miners trapped in the Pike River mine, Stephen Rose began carrying a "worry stone" around with him.

It was a stone he picked up from his work yard after getting the news that Stuart Gilbert Mudge, 31, was among those who did not emerge.

Yesterday, Mr Rose gave the stone to an engineer who was going up to the mine, and asked him to "drop it down the mineshaft for us".

"He's put his worries with it, and [Mr Mudge's mother] Carol has, and so have I," said Mr Rose, who has long been recognised as Mr Mudge's father.

The Coal Creek couple do appear to be coping well as they wait for word about Mr Mudge. But they have had their moments.

"We call them little methane attacks," said Carol Rose, a reference to the gas at the heart of the crisis. Mr Rose said the mine explosion was a disaster, from which he hopes lives will be saved in future.

"It shouldn't happen again."

Mrs Rose did not want to comment on whether she was still holding out hope of her son being found alive.

"Because there are a lot of people that are holding out a lot of hope. And everybody deals with things in their own way."

Mr Mudge was well aware of the risks in his job.

"Before he took the job there, we had discussions about the risk," Mrs Rose said.

"As a mother, you make sure that your children are aware of risks. But ultimately they make their own decisions in life. And that's fine. That's a very good and healthy way to be."

While he was no saint, Mrs Rose said her son was a "good man".

He moved to the West Coast from Wellington about six years ago and "immediately embraced the West Coast attitude".

"He's a West Coaster through and through," his mother said.

He has a "really beautiful" 5-year-old daughter named Tui.

"He just adored her. He lived for his daughter, fishing, hunting. He loved his job. He went in as a trainee miner, he wanted to go up through the ranks, he wanted to get into mine management and make it a career for him.

"There's two types of people who go [mining]: There's the ones that go down for the money, and they hate every minute of it. And then there's the ones just love it. [Mr Mudge] was one that loved it."

Mrs Rose said the potential loss of all 29 men raised real worries about families being left with no breadwinners, and unable to pay bills and mortgages.