To chants of "Winston for Prime Minister," New Zealand First leader Winston Peters offered to be the first to go back into the condemned Pike River Mine.

Peters was speaking at a rally of some of the Pike River families and their spokesman Bernie Monk who came to Parliament to push their case for re-entry into the stricken mine.

He says he's read some of the safety reports on Pike River and, like the families, believes it's now safe to return.

"It all points to the fact that there's something like a cover-up going on and the Government not wanting to know."


Peters says the Government's embarrassed that the lack of safety procedures at the mine happened under National's watch and 29 lives were lost.

"If that was to be indicated by what they find on re-entry, then it'll all point to their culpability. You've got Solid Energy and the Government acting in collusion to shut it down," he said.

Asked if he was genuine in his offer to be the first back into the mine he maintained it was neither symbolic nor a token gesture.

"I'm expressing my confidence in the advice these Pike River families are getting about the capacity, if they're allowed to, to re-enter."

Peters says he knows what it's like to work underground in a highly dangerous job. He worked in the late 60s and early 70s on the Island Benn tunnel in Australia's Snowy Mountains.

As tempting as it might be to have Winston Peters out of play, the new Prime Minister Bill English wasn't buying into the 71 year old's offer.

"Oh, look I don't think anyone will take that seriously, there's a serious safety issue there and he shouldn't trivialise it."

English says Peters isn't an expert.


"The issue here is around the safety of the mine and under the law the decisions have to be made about the safety of that mine by the people who are responsible for it, not by the politicians," English said.

English bumped into Bernie Monk at a coffee shop in Wellington this morning and said they had a polite conversation.

He hopes to be able to meet the families this side of Christmas.

Meanwhile Labour leader Andrew Little told the families at the rally in Wellington that he would like to see an independent safety report into the mine but failed to get the enthusiastic response afforded to Peters.