Former Pike River boss Peter Whittall has split from his wife and struck up a relationship with the former financial controller of the company.

Whittall separated from his schoolteacher wife Leanne six months after the mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 men on the West Coast in November 2010.

Both Whittall and Angela Horne were part of a five-person management team who were in charge when the mining explosion took place.

He said his relationship with Horne, a former finance boss at the mine company, began after he had separated from his wife.


In a statement, his lawyer Stacey Shortall said the Pike River boss had remained in Wellington with his daughters after the marriage break-up, where he continued to live today, and focused on responding to the inquiries into the explosion.

"He has genuine and heartfelt gratitude to his wife and children for their support during the tragedy."

Whittall formed a mining consultancy after Pike River was placed in liquidation, but Shortall said he had been unemployed for some time.

"Despite opportunities to pursue work abroad, Mr Whittall decided to remain in New Zealand because he believed it was the right thing to do."

He faces prosecution by the Department of Labour alongside the company and one of its contractors.

"Mr Whittall has also faced intense public scrutiny before the Royal Commission at which he appeared as a witness on numerous occasions while others refused to do so."

Pike 29 families spokesman Bernie Monk said that the families were still waiting for an apology from everyone involved, including Whittall.

"No one but no one has ever come to the Pike River families from Pike River to say 'sorry'."