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More heartache for Pike River families


The identification of human remains in the Pike River mine was the saddest event of the past week.

The finding was announced just two days from the 11th anniversary of the disaster which cost the lives of 29 miners. Police released images to the families that showed the remains of at least two of the men, but also said they could not be recovered because they were in the deepest part of the mine.

Police have been drilling boreholes into the mine as part of a criminal investigation, with the aim of proving or disproving theories from the Royal Commission of Inquiry as to what triggered the first explosion.

In March the Minister Responsible for Pike River Andrew Little said no more funds would be provided for the operation, which has cost $50m.

In September the families dropped a court action fighting the Government's decision to seal the mine, which will be handed over to DoC to become part of the Paparoa National Park.

It leaves the families with only the faint hope of ever getting justice, and understandably angry.

The disaster became something of a political football for a time, with show boating from NZ First leader Winston Peters that he was prepared to enter the mine.

Once again, outside experts have said an attempt to recover the remains is possible, something that only adds to the families' angst.

Another distressing image from last week was that of hundreds of refugees, mainly from Iraq and many of them women and children, desperately trying to enter Poland. The group were forced to endure biting cold in the open and the water cannons of Polish police.

Again politics played a role. The authoritarian leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has been accused of luring the refugees to the border in response to sanctions imposed on Belarus by the EU.

Here in New Zealand apprehension about the opening of Auckland continued with the Tai Tokerau Maori Collective saying to “send body bags” if that happened.

The Maori Council has taken an urgent appeal to the Waitangi Tribunal for a decision on the Government's pandemic response as it affects Maori.

The week did not end on a happy note for National Party leader Judith Collins with another poll confirming that ACT continues to take votes from it, and with its leader David Seymour well ahead of her as preferred prime minister.

Finally, events in Paris yesterday ruined an otherwise perfect weekend.