Families of miners killed in the Pike River mining disaster say they disagree with the representative group that last week accepted the government’s decision to stop funding efforts to recover bodies or evidence from the blast.

Twenty-nine men were killed when an explosion ravaged the Pike River mine on the west coast in November 2010. Their bodies remain in the mine.

Last week, the New Zealand government announced it was stopping funding for a mine access tunnel, or “drift,” exploration project. This exploration has cost NZ $ 50 million so far, and the responsible minister, Andrew Little, said the mine was “inherently unstable” and the mission could not have an unlimited budget.

At the time, the Pike River Family Reference Group, which claims to represent the families of 27 of the deceased, said: “[The] the families sadly accept Andrew Little’s advice that there will be no more government money to expand the project at this time.

But on Thursday, a group of families came forward saying they had been “blinded” by the initial statement and wanted the government to reconsider its decision. They said the initial decision to accept the end of the drift exploration was made by a small number of families present at the reunion, and many more objected to the decision. Bernie Monk, whose son died in the crash, said 22 families contacted him for support.

GREYMOUTH, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 2: Photos of the 29 deceased miners are on display at the public memorial on the Pike River Mine Access Road on May 2, 2019 in Greymouth, New Zealand.  29 men were trapped and killed underground at the Pike River mine following an explosion on November 19, 2010. The men's bodies have yet to be found.  The re-entry process to collect the men will begin tomorrow.  (Photo by Phil Walter / Getty Images)
Photos of the 29 deceased miners are on display at the public memorial on the access road to the Pike River mine Photograph: Phil Walter / Getty Images

Monk told NZME that the government agreed to “bring the men home to their families” and failed to do so. “New Zealanders are not breaking their promises and I don’t want to fight Minister Little personally, but he broke a promise, like all the promises that were broken before us.

Little said the government had not made a commitment to go further in the drift – and that it entailed health and safety risks and would cost millions. “The cost to go further, which some families want, due to health and safety issues, would cost millions and millions of dollars more and I just don’t have that money and cabinet won’t approve. not this money, ”he said. The AM show Thursday.

Some families are hoping that further exploration might end with the recovery of some of the men’s bodies. Others hope that reaching and extracting the mine’s ventilation fan will provide clues to the cause of the explosion and possible evidence for future prosecutions.

Pike River was one of New Zealand’s worst mining disasters and the worst in 100 years. A royal commission in 2012 found that security warnings had been ignored at the site and that government regulators had failed to effectively inspect it. No individual has ever been successfully prosecuted for the disaster.