New footage from inside the Pike River mine appears to contradict official reports that the 2010 explosions caused a raging inferno that would have destroyed everything inside.

The footage, released to the families of the 29 men who died in the mining disaster, was aired on Newshub tonight.

It was shot in 2011 by a camera lowered down borehole 44, which was drilled after the explosions. The footage shows rubber hoses and wooden pallets that appear unburnt, deep in the mine next to the coalface.

The families say that contradicts the story they were told, that everything in the mine had been burnt up.


But Dr Nick Smith, acting Conservation Minister for Pike River issues, said the expert reports never claimed the entire mine was an inferno.

"There is nothing in the film released that changes anything in the technical reports. None of them claimed that every corner of the mine was burnt to a cinder," he said.

"It would only be possible for there to be fire where there was both the presence of methane, oxygen and a source of ignition."

The grainy footage also appears to show a pair of spectacles which may have belonged to Ben Rockhouse, one of the victims of the explosion who was working in that location.

His mother Sonya Rockhouse said the footage raises serious question about the Government's refusal to allow recovery specialists to go inside the mine.

"New Zealand has been told there's nothing but ashes and dust down there, they've been told that the drift can't be made safe to enter and investigate.

"That's just not true, my boy is down there and if pallets and paper are intact then so is his body."

Experts spoken to by Newshub agreed there had been no fire in the area around borehole 44. But Smith said that did not make it safe to enter, and the question had always been about entering the drift - not the inner workings of the mine.

"Even the families' experts who dispute the assessment as to whether it is safe to re-enter the drift of the mine conclude that it is not safe to put men into the mine workings," he said.

Rockhouse said the Government has had the footage for six years.

"If it had been released to us and to New Zealand all those years ago we would have got into the drift by now and would have answers and some accountability."

She said Prime Minister Bill English had told the families cameras would be sent into the drift, but that promise was made five months ago. Since then there had only been "a couple of meetings and a vague suggestion it might happen by November".


"The experts say that the drift can be made safe for manned entry and that that's what's needed to recover evidence and any remains in there. I want to know why the Government won't listen to them and just do this."

She called for English to "do the right thing".

"He needs to let our experts work with mines rescue to enter the drift and find out what happened down there. We need answers. We deserve answers."

Smith said the Government was continuing to work with the families on unmanned entry "as soon as practical".

Labour leader Andrew Little said the new footage provided a compelling reason to allow re-entry into the mine.

"I have committed to safe re-entry of Pike and we'll clear the technicalities that the Government hides behind instead of providing the leadership the families so desperately need."