A renewed attempt to re-enter the Pike River mine will happen tomorrow - but only the families of the 29 men who died will be allowed in.

The re-entry is a long-awaited goal for the families following the 2010 explosion in the West Coast mine.

Sonya Rockhouse, whose son Ben died in the explosion, said: "I can confirm they are going to attempt [to re-enter] but there'll be no media there, it is a family occasion only"

The families had thought it would be nice if the event was for them only given how long they had been in the media spotlight, she told the Herald.


A long awaited re-entry attempt was planned for May 3 but called off by the Pike River Recovery Agency the day before for safety reasons.

Bernie and Kath Monk, who lost son Michael in the 2010 mine disaster, would be attending tomorrow, Bernie Monk told the Herald today.

He said families of victims had been invited to meet at 10am at the gate, from where they would be driven up to the mine.

"We just got a message from the agency … They are making it available for them to come up if they want to see the first wall taken out tomorrow, the 30m wall [30m inside the mine entrance]."

Asked if he was excited the re-entry was about to start, he said "Yeah I am. It's something that should have been done eight years ago. History will be made tomorrow."

He was confident that the problems that had prevented the attempt on May 3 had been overcome. "It wasn't a big issue; it's just something that happens in mining."

Anna Osborne, whose husband died in the disaster, would not confirm any re-entry of Pike River Mine tomorrow.

"All I can actually tell you is that the re-entry is imminent," she said, "but unfortunately I don't have a set date to share with the public yet. I know there's some speculation about it happening tomorrow but I'm unable to confirm that, I'm sorry."


A spokeswoman for the recovery agency would not confirm that a re-entry was going ahead tomorrow, saying only that preparations were continuing and it was not discussing timeframes.

The office of Andrew Little, the Minister responsible for the re-entry, did not respond to Herald calls.

Workers were last week back cutting into the concrete seal plugging the Pike River Mine drift after the leaky tubes that delayed the long-awaited re-entry were replaced.

Families of the 29 men who died in the Pike River mine were disappointed by an eleventh-hour delay to the re-entry operation originally planned for May 3 but at the time accepted safety must come first.

The agency had been working for months to purge methane and oxygen from the mine by pumping in nitrogen before they were to head underground.

But the day before they were due to go in, they got an "unknown reading of oxygen" from a borehole 2.3km into the mine's drift, where the roof collapsed in the 2010 explosions. The oxygen had the potential for a "spontaneous combustion event".

A leaky sampling tube was to blame for the oxygen spike and was replaced before work on cutting into the concrete seal resumed