Open letter to the Pike river families

Dear Families,

I am aware that there are some families who want to move on, so this is to Bernie Monk and his followers:

You may have noticed that the world has just celebrated Armistice Day.

Here in New Zealand, we remembered the 18,000 or so that died in that conflict. Mostly, they are buried where they fell. Thousands of them in unmarked graves. Their families have no place to go to lay flowers, no place to repatriate the bodies from, no way to give them a “proper” burial.

Those who served went to war knowing that war was a dangerous occupation, much like mining in that regard.? The Pike River deaths were not the first mining fatalities in New Zealand and probably will not be the last.

Currently, your loved ones have a known burial place, somewhere you can go to and lay flowers. They have a Great Walk named in their honour to keep their memories alive.? Why this need to put more lives in danger, at huge expense, just to collect a small pile of ashes that you can then rebury?

The estimates are now around $35 odd million for this exercise. You know, and we know, that it will be much more than what has been estimated so $40 million was used for the figures below.

Each family could be paid out $1 million and it would be cheaper that re-entry.? This could appear a trifle tacky, profiting from the taxpayer as a result of this tragedy, connotations of blood money and so forth, so it may not sit well.

Another suggestion is that the country could afford to:

  • Give hearing to 800 children via cochlear implants; or
  • Give mobility to 1600 with hip or knee replacements; or
  • Give sight to 10,000 with cataract surgery; or
  • Pay for 850 graduate nurses for a year; or
  • Support cancer research; or
  • Other medical research and so on.

Would not any one of those be a more fitting memorial to your loved ones than digging another hole and risking more lives?

Imagine how wonderful it would feel if, for example, a beneficiary of the annual Pike River Memorial Research Grant made a break through in the cure for cancer?

Why not choose life?


Yours etc,