The family of a young man killed in the Pike River disaster has reacted to the "rawness" of a new documentary about the mine explosion.

Bernie Monk and his wife Kath, who lost their son Michael, 23, in the tragedy, attended a media screening of the tele-doco in Auckland this morning.

This is the second time Bernie, the spokesperson for the families of the 28 men who lost their lives, has seen Pike River.

"It's still painful to watch.


"There was no accountability, no justice and people got away with it and that's what this [screening] brings back to me today," said Bernie.

Kath said the screening took her back to the time of the explosion.

"It captured the rawness and the way people were feeling.

"In my mind I was thinking "where's Michael, what did he experience, was he hurt, was he injured, did he suffer?"

The drama-documentary will be premiered on Prime towards the end of the month.

The former Pike River safety manager who lost one son in the mine explosion tragedy - and whose father died just hours after hearing the news - says tuning in to watch the tele-doco will be too traumatic.

Meanwhile, the father of the youngest victim, 17-year-old Joseph Dunbar, says the production doesn't touch on some of the key aspects of the tragedy.

Neville Rockhouse was Pike River's safety manager at the time of the tragedy. He said watching the programme would be too distressing.

"While I was interviewed for the doco, my wife Tracy and I did not accept the offer of a private screening, nor are we planning to watch it on TV," he told the Herald on Sunday.

The Pike River mining tragedy robbed Rockhouse of his much-loved youngest son, Ben, while his other son, Daniel, was lucky to escape with his life after the West Coast mine exploded on the afternoon of November 19, 2010.

Just hours after the disaster - which killed 29 miners and contractors - Rockhouse's father, Ray, died of a heart attack.

"My son Daniel saw the doco and said it was pretty good but we just don't really want to revisit the day," Rockhouse said. "We lived through it and that was traumatic enough ... I lost my son and my father on the same day."

Pike River is directed by Rupert MacKenzie for Screentime productions and stars Kiwi actors Mark Mitchinson, Xavier Horan and Roy Billing.

Set amid the drama of the five days between the three explosions at the mine, the programme reveals a tragic back story, where pressure for profits would eventually contribute to the deaths of the men.

It features interviews with the Pike River families and scripted drama to depict key events, and was made with almost $1 million in funding from NZ On Air's Platinum Fund.

Dean Dunbar's son Joseph was killed the day after his 17th birthday. Like others, he remains frustrated the bodies of the stricken men have never been recovered.

The mine has been deemed too dangerous and attempts to bring the men home were abandoned.

Flames leap from the ventilation shaft at the Pike River Mine in the Paparoa Range 46 kilomentres from Greymouth, West Coast. File photo / Mark Mitchell
Flames leap from the ventilation shaft at the Pike River Mine in the Paparoa Range 46 kilomentres from Greymouth, West Coast. File photo / Mark Mitchell

A line was permanently drawn under recovery efforts last year, with the news the mine will be handed over to the Department of Conservation, and the Paparoa National Park between Greymouth and Westport will also be expanded by nearly 4000ha to include the mass grave.

Dunbar said he had already attended a private screening in Christchurch but would not be going to the event in Auckland, which featured a question and answer session from Bernie.

Bernie was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit, earlier this year, for his work to make New Zealand safer following the Pike River tragedy.

"I thought it was a bit disappointing there is nothing in the documentary about why drift recovery became an impossibility, as that is one of the most important issues in this whole scenario," Dunbar said.

"I also really wish it had gone into the police investigation into the tragedy, or rather the lack of one."

Bernie said there is a huge amount of work happening at the mine and workers can go 170 metres into the drift.

A retrievable seal is being put into the drift, he said.

"That means that one day someone could open it up. Why don't we have another look at it now that it's opened up and do this job once and for all?"

Bernie encourages New Zealanders watch the doco to understand why the families are fighting so hard to enter the drift and the funding needed for high-hazard scenes, to ensure a tragedy as such never happens again.