The man who fronted efforts to save 29 men from the explosion-hit Pike River Coal mine will not attend a memorial to the disaster.

Police Superintendent Gary Knowles this morning announced family committments will keep him away from the Greymouth memorial marking the one year anniversary of the first Pike River mine explosion.

Commissioner Peter Marshall, assistant commissioner David Cliff and West Coast area commander John Canning were set to take his place.

Mr Knowles dealt with media and informed families in the aftermath of the explosion, which killed 29 miners.


His move means neither of the men who became the public faces of the disaster response will be at tomorrow's memorial.

Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall will mark the first anniversary of the first explosion at the West Coast mine privately in Wellington.

The Labour Department last week laid 25 charges in the Greymouth District Court against him and two other parties alleging health and safety failures before the Pike River disaster.
He has vowed to fight the charges, saying he will not be "scape goated" for the deaths of his workers.