Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters remains confident of a re-entry of the Pike River mine - saying it can be done for much less money than some have suggested.

Peters told Newstalk ZB that view was based on advice from a range of experts.

"That advice from leading experts is it can be done, and for a much, much more reasonable price than what is currently being put out there at the moment."

Pike River family representatives Sonya Rockhouse, Anna Osborne and Bernie Monk met officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment yesterday.


Afterwards, they told the Herald their involvement in re-entry assessment would go beyond merely being informed of developments. It was possible a family representative would be on a selection panel for the new Pike River Recovery Agency chief executive and other key staff such as the on-site manager.

"A family representative will quite possibly be part of that panel," Osborne said.

The families had also discussed making the decision process more transparent to the wider public, including the possibility of hearings, and releasing documents and materials.

On Monday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Pike River Minister Andrew Little set out plans for a new Pike River Recovery Agency, including a target of re-entry by March 2019.

Labour committed itself to a re-entry as part of its election campaign, and its coalition agreement with NZ First included a commitment to re-entry to Pike River.

But Labour has since said that was not an absolute guarantee. Ardern said her commitment to the families was to do everything within the Government's power to attempt a re-entry, but safety would be the priority.

Amy Adams, National's spokeswoman for Pike River, has accused Labour of winding back its initial promise of re-entry, and adopting a position close to National's which argued safety needed to be paramount.

Those comments angered Sonya Rockhouse, who said the families had always maintained safety was the most important issue when assessing re-entry.


"And all they are doing is making sure everything is safe. If they have to do 10 lots of safety checks, then so be it. There are no guarantees in life. Of course [the Government] can't guarantee us they will get in. But they will do their best. And that's all we can ask."

The families said they expected the mining experts they have consulted to be involved in the new Pike agency's assessments.

Osborne said if a decision was made that re-entry was too dangerous, the families would want to hear it from those same experts.

"It would be up to our experts to turn around and say, 'this is the reason why it can't be done'. We certainly won't be listening to anyone else."

The new Pike agency will be a small government department and could be based in the South Island, and will be dissolved once the work was completed. Ardern has said the goals of re-entry are to recover any remains and collect any evidence for the cause of the blast in 2010 that claimed 29 lives.