'Morally cowardice' — Pike River recovery effort hasn't gone far enough, some victims' families say

Source: 1News

There's concern ending the Pike River recovery mission will compromise any future criminal investigation. 

Miners reached the roof fall more than two kilometres into the mine earlier this week, but some family members say the effort hasn't gone far enough.

It's the furthest anyone has been since the fatal explosion, but there's no plan to go any further.

It's something Dean Dunbar, who lost his son in the disaster, can't comprehend.

"It seems morally cowardice to turn your back on something that is so close," he told 1 NEWS.

Cabinet provided $50 million to get the project to this point and no further, so police could conduct a criminal investigation.

"Why you would not go that little bit extra to ensure those guys were not trapped behind that roof fall after the first explosion and have a chance to bring our children home," Dunbar says.

"We know that the evidence is right there, why you would turn your back on that right now is beyond me."

The crucial piece of evidence, the underground fan believed to be the ignition source for the first explosion, sits behind the roof fall.

Dinghy Pattinson, who led the charge into the mine, says it could be retrieved but it would be costly to do it safely. 

"It's not in our current mandate but on a technical and a mining perspective, I haven't seen a roof fall you can't recover," he says.

"But again, it's money and where does that money come from."

When the project blew its budget last year, Cabinet came back with an extra $15 million — but made it clear that money would be the very last. 

"It doesn't matter what is in there ... it's getting in there is going to be hugely technically difficult and challenging," Pike River Recovery Minister Andrew Little says.

"When we put the plan together in conjunction with the families' representatives, everyone agreed we'd go as far as we can and that is to the rockfall, and that is as far as we've got."

Tributes have been placed in the mine but the forensic work will continue, now focusing on the mine's electrical workings at the pit bottom in stone.

But victims' father Bernie Monk says if they don't go further, a crucial piece of the puzzle will be missing.

"Let's put it all right, and I think New Zealanders deserve the truth of what happened at Pike River," says. 

Twenty-nine men died there more than 10 years ago and these men are now calling on the Government to push further to help find answers.

"This is New Zealand's biggest homicide inquiry. This in my opinion is New Zealand's biggest shame," Dunbar says.