Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says he remains committed to being the first person to re-enter Pike River Mine.

"I said I'd be happy to join the first team going back in, and I still am, were I to be asked," he told the Herald in a statement.

But this is very unlikely to eventuate after Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little said the first person into the mine would be "an experienced, trained professional".

On Tuesday, Little confirmed Pike River Mine would be re-entered early next year.
But he said safety was a major priority.

Advertisement

Asked if there was a possibility for any of the Pike River families or Government
representatives to go further up the drift, Little said he didn't think that was likely.

"We don't want a whole bunch of people without the skills and training to be in there."

Peters pledged to be the first person to go into the mine at the end of 2016.

He said he was so confident in a report, written by David Creed – Vice Chair of the UN Group of Experts on Coal Mine Methane and Bob Stevenson – which revealed a safe method of entering the mine, that he would be the first one back in.

"I'm so confident of the reports I've seen, that I've volunteered to be one of the first ones to go back in", Peters said at the time.

"I used to work in tunnelling in the Snowy Mountains, where we used to lose a man a mile. I was happy to work there, and I'll be happy to be part of the crew re-entering the drift at Pike."

Peters doubled down on his commitment in June.

"I made that statement a long time before anybody wanted to enter the mine because I do have an experience of mining or working underground ... so it's nothing new in terms of danger," he said in a post-cabinet press conference while he was Acting Prime Minister.

Advertisement

"The fences being put up by the previous Government were without any validity whatsoever - that's why I made this statement because I believe it to be true."