Some of the families who lost loved ones in Pike River Mine almost eight years ago to the day have expressed their relief at the decision to re-enter the mine.

"At the end of the day, I was always confident this job would get done," Bernie Monk, who lost his son Michael in the explosion, told media this morning.

"Even when we were in our darkest days, the reason why we stood our ground is [because] I knew this job could be done."

Pike River family members, from left, Anna Osborne, Sonya Rockhouse and Bernie Monk hold photos of their lost family members at the announcement this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Pike River family members, from left, Anna Osborne, Sonya Rockhouse and Bernie Monk hold photos of their lost family members at the announcement this morning. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little said he had carefully considered the advice of the Pike River Recovery Agency and had decided to proceed with one of three options presented for re-entry to the drift.

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"On the basis of all the material I have been presented with, I am satisfied that there is now a safe plan for re-entry and recovery," Little said.

The agency recommended re-entering the drift via the existing entry. Cabinet this week approved an additional $14 million in funding, taking the total budget for the plan to $36m.

Monk, Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne, who all lost loved ones in the explosion, were standing alongside Little at the announcement at Parliament this morning.

They have been fighting for re-entry into the mine since the disaster in 2010.

They were holding photos of their loved ones today.

Osborne, who lost her husband Milton in the explosion, said she felt "absolutely amazing" after hearing the decision.

She said it has been a "long, emotional rollercoaster," but now the decision to re-enter the mine has been made, she feels "elation".

"What a fantastic day this is, not just for the Pike families but for New Zealand as a whole."

She said all the families' hard work has paid off.

When she first heard the news, she said she, Monk and Rockhouse shed a few tears – "we were in a state of disbelief really".

"Because we had so many kicks in the guts in the past that we were thinking 'is this really real? Is it truly going to happen now? And it is."

Asked if it was time for her and the families to take a rest, she said no.

"The job is not over yet," she said, adding that the job will never be over while her husband Milton is still in the mine.

Monk agreed – "our battle is about to start now".

"I want justice, I want accountability, I want the truth."

Monk also expressed his disappointment at the previous National Government and Solid Energy, which owned the mine at the time of the explosion.

Rockhouse lost her son Ben in the disaster, while another son, Daniel, survived.

Asked how she was feeling after hearing the news the re-entry plan would go ahead, she said: "It's a bit surreal really. Pleased, relieved. We've been waiting for this for a very long time.

"It's fantastic to finally have a Government who have listened to our experts. We've been saying this all the way along, so it's a huge relief.

"We just can't believe it. Anna and I talked last night and we just can't believe it's happening.

Anna Osborne (left) lost her husband Milton, Sonya Rockhouse lost her son Ben and Bernie Monk lost his son Michael in the Pike River Mine disaster. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Anna Osborne (left) lost her husband Milton, Sonya Rockhouse lost her son Ben and Bernie Monk lost his son Michael in the Pike River Mine disaster. Photo / Mark Mitchell

She described the moment she was told the news, last night.

"Joy and relief. We're just at the beginning of it now but the beginning is better than what we've ever had, so, it's fantastic, it's just great."

Pike River family members Sonya Rockhouse, Anna Osborne and Bernie Monk are emotional as Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little announces he has approved a re-entry plan photo / Mark Mitchell
Pike River family members Sonya Rockhouse, Anna Osborne and Bernie Monk are emotional as Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little announces he has approved a re-entry plan photo / Mark Mitchell
Pike River family members, from left, Anna Osborne, Sonya Rockhouse and Bernie Monk are emotional as Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little announces a re-entry plan. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Pike River family members, from left, Anna Osborne, Sonya Rockhouse and Bernie Monk are emotional as Pike River Re-entry Minister Andrew Little announces a re-entry plan. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Rockhouse said it had been a very hard journey to get to this point.

"There have been many times when we've thought about walking away because it's very stressful when nobody's listening to you. You're banging your head against a wall all the time and you're just getting the same thing said to you.

"It's been very different in the last year for us, with the Coalition Government listening to us, not having to fight. It's a very different feeling, so we're still getting used to that.

"It's been a very long and hard fight, and one we should never have had to have. They should have been doing all this stuff right at the beginning. We should never have had to fight.

"But the best is yet to come. The most emotional day, I think, will be the day we actually see them going up the drift."

She hoped those going into the drift would find evidence, some remains.

"I hope they find something, and some evidence to show us what happened and why. It's very difficult to think about that. We try not to think too much about that.

"It's pretty gruesome, at the end of the day. These are our loved ones and the possibility of them being up there ... you sort of harden yourself to that, you have to otherwise we would never have been able to carry on."

Pike River family members Anna Osborne, left, and Sonya Rockhouse. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Pike River family members Anna Osborne, left, and Sonya Rockhouse. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Asked whether she had a message for former Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall, who now lives in Australia, Rockhouse said it was nothing she could say on air.

"I'm actually speechless when it comes to what to say to him. If I saw him face to face, I'd have one question for him. Why?

"Why did he not tell us the truth right from the start. He knew, lots of people knew and they weren't honest with us. They didn't try, they didn't do anything.

"Why did he just walk away and just let 29 men remain down the mine.

"Not only after the explosion but before the explosion, he let them down right from the very beginning. He should have built a mine that was going to be safe for men to go in and work in every day and he didn't."

She hoped there would be criminal charges.

"This is what we have been asking for all the way along."

Asked how it felt for him to make this announcement, Little said he felt "incredibly privileged".

"I would be lying to you if I didn't feel a sense [that] I feel justice is going to be done."

In the aftermath of the Pike River disaster, WorkSafe put together a case that would have brought 12 charges against Whittall.

But the case was dropped after he agreed to pay $3.41 million to the families.

The Supreme Court later ruled that was unlawful, and effectively a payment to avoid prosecution.