The Pike River families will move one step forward to rescuing their loved ones when they are given the keys to the gate of the mine, ending a year-long blockade at the site.

Seven years to the day since the first explosion rocked the mine, Andrew Little will hand the keys over to the family as a symbol of the new Government's effort to re-enter the mine and recover the 29 men who died in 2010.

The families will hold a private service at the mine's portal entrance before a public service is held in Blackball.

Little told the Herald he put a tentative date of early to mid next year on it and hopes to take his recommendations for membership and structure of the new Pike River Agency next week.


He said he had given the families no guarantees that what they want will be able to achieved, but promised to involve them.

"When we get to the point of having done the planning, done the risk assessment and all the rest of it and we make a decision of yes or no, they will be part of that decision.

"And in the end there can be no absolute guarantee but what we can guarantee is we will do the job properly, plan, prepare, assess and they will be involved every step of the way."

The handing over of the key is set to take place at 11.30am today.