The Government remains committed to a manned re-entry of Pike River and has not softened its position on that pledge, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
"We are [going in]. Our commitment is a manned re-entry. And we remain committed to that," Ardern told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB.
Last week 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 is not an absolute guarantee, with Ardern saying 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.
Today, she said those comments were made after being asked by media if her Government would authorise a re-entry if there was evidence people could lose their lives.
"And the point I was making was, actually, the families have never asked us to do that. They have simply asked us to commit to investigating and utilising the evidence they have…and that is what we are doing."
Ardern was also quizzed about another aspect of the coalition agreement with NZ First – using a new regional development fund to plant 1 billion trees over 10 years.
National has accused the Government of backtracking on that pledge, because Forestry and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has said the private sector would plant about half of all trees.
Ardern said the Government had always been clear others would be involved in the 1 billion tree goal.
"Whether or not we are the ones physically out planting the trees, whether or not we are the ones that have forestry service assistance, whether or not there are government subsidies involved in some of those plantings – there is a lot of government involvement, even when the private sector is involved.
"Our commitment is to plant a billion trees. I absolutely accept that people will need to see the proof in the pudding. I absolutely accept that. All I'm asking, four weeks in, is to give us the ability, the time and the space to be able to prove that."