National is accusing the parties that make up the Government of "politicising" the Pike River tragedy and building false hope among the families who lost loved ones.

Yesterday, the Minister in charge of the Pike River mine re-entry, Andrew Little, said there was a "very low" chance of recovering human remains from the mine.

He added that it was "just impractical" to expect the remains of all the fallen miners to be recovered.

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The re-entry into the mine, Little said, was now essentially solely focused on gathering evidence in the "homicide of 29 men", he told a select committee hearing yesterday.

National's Pike River Re-entry spokeswoman Judith Collins said Little's comments amounted to a broken promise from the Labour Party.

She said re-entering the mine and recovering the bodies of those lost in the explosion was one of Labour's promises on the campaign trail in 2017.

In a pre-election speech, then Labour leader Andrew Little promised: "to do everything practicably possible to re-enter the drift to recover any remains, and to better understand the cause or causes of the original explosion".

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In a subsequent press release, Jacinda Ardern said: "Re-entering the drift will mean we can recover some of the men, and evidence of the cause of the explosions".

Collins said Little's admission yesterday that there was little chance of human remains being recovered amounts to a broken promise.

"Labour, the Greens, and New Zealand First politicised the tragedy that unfolded at Pike River, building false hope among the families," she said.

"Unsurprisingly, they have now admitted they aren't going to be able to deliver on their promise."


Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Little said the Government has always said that there was a "low probability of recovering remains".

"It's most likely that most of them are in the mine workings – we never made a commitment to getting to the mine workings, [we committed to] recovering the drift."