Pike River, Department of Internal Affairs #skippingthebusiness

Comment received.

Martin Legge
January 14, 2013 at 8:57 am

Spare a thought for all the Pike River victims and their families.

Maarten Quivooy was the National Safety Manager at Dept of Labour at the time of the Pike River tragedy and during the commission of enquiry that followed which resulted in DOL Management being heavily criticised. As we now know, Quivooy, like a rat off a sinking ship, left the DOL before the Commission made its findings public.

Quivooy grabbed the top Gambling Compliance job at DIA ahead of an incumbent. In light of this it would be interesting to read his CV, his references from DOL and hear his responses given to the DIA selection panel – “Maarten can you please outline your achievements with the DOL”

Quivooy is all hat and no cowboy!!!

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26.10.12 Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) – CULPABLE #pokierorts
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27.8.12 DIA’s political cover-up of TTCF and ORFU rorts
12.8.12 DIA reshuffle: new investigation teams, money laundering, criticism
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15.7.12 Martin Legge responds to media stories on Murray Acklin, TTCF and DIA
26.5.12 DIA media release
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Use the search box at right to find more items connected to professional rugby, pokie rorts, TTCF, ORFU and DCC.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, Economics, Geography, Media, Name, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Sport, Stadiums

86 responses to “Pike River, Department of Internal Affairs #skippingthebusiness

  1. Elizabeth

    A pause for thought.

    ### ODT Online Thu, 24 Jan 2013
    Otago pokie spend rises
    By Hamish McNeilly
    Southern gamblers have pumped almost $50 million into pokies over the past year – the equivalent of $160 for every man, woman and child living in Otago and Southland. Figures from the Department of Internal Affairs show non-casino pokie spend in the South was $48.6 million for the year ending September 2012. Dunedin punters led the way, gambling $18.5 million over the same period.
    Read more

  2. Hype O'Thermia

    That’s _some_ people spending a colossal amount of money.
    I know one person who goes to the casino occasionally. Of the rest of the people I know well enough to know whether they do or don’t, a few went once and once was enough, others like me preferred re-labeling the stuff in the deep-freeze using guesswork and occasional burst of divine inspiration, and sorting the big tin of screws, washers, nuts and bolts into separate tins.
    As a matter of interest, how many of you / people you know, go to the casino? The fewer, the higher the “spend” to make “the equivalent of $160 for every man, woman and child living in Otago and Southland”.

  3. Yer well, you should only be able to play them in the casino.
    Helping a rely do stuff I saw people lined up at the pub, doors opened and straight to the machines.
    Scary shit.

    • Elizabeth

      There’s a few obscure gaming rooms attached to pubs, barely visible from the street – people can while away many hours and dollars with no-one seeing….day in day out.

  4. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes, Elizabeth, the Law Courts has one.

  5. DIA farce continues – forget to collar the Old Boy crims defrauding New Zealand communities for millions and millions of dollars; crunch the guys with tats. WHAT IS ORGANISED CRIME ? Answer: Pokie rorts and associated money laundering across the nation. Who? Example: TTCF, ORFU, and friends. Who let’s it happen? Department of Internal Affairs.

    ### ODT Online Fri, 1 Feb 2013
    Gang member sentenced over trust rort
    A Dunedin gang member on the periphery of the misappropriation of trust funds to buy cannabis has been sentenced to community detention and community work. Jason Renata Kapa, 43, employed, was one of several Mongrel Mob Notorious gang members charged over the dishonest conversion by We Against Violence Trust trustees of $20,000 for an unauthorised purpose.
    Read more

  6. Martin Legge

    The sad reality in NZ now is the fact that the Dunedin Mongrel Mob figure out a way to rip off $20k from a Govt agency without a shotgun or violence and for their trouble they get the full attention of Parliament which inevitably leads to the full force of the NZ Police.

    Meanwhile back at DIA HQ, the tough talking Heads of Gambling compliance, Maarten Quivooy, Paul James, Colin McDonald and Debbie Despard remain unconcerned about whats been going on within TTCF and right under their noses and with witnesses – the unlawful payments to the commercial interests of the Portage and Waitakere Licensing trusts resulting in loss of $1.2 million to the West Auckland Community, the fake document supplied to DIA by TTCF trustees to fudge it, the $7 million fleeced out of 3 South Auckland bars and given to ORFU and Harness racing when TTCF knew those groups had an interest in those bars.

    Better than that, the TTCF trustees didn’t even have to front for an interview on any of this and Debbie Despard is recently recorded as saying it’s now pleasing to see TTCF have improved their performance.

    Can I suggest to the Dunedin Mongrel Mob that next time they rip off pokie money – far less fuss!!!

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Not only did the mob guy get investigated, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced – and so he should – but his photo was in the paper along with the report of his “vile crime”, a very pale crime compared with scale of misdeeds of which the DIA has been informed IN DETAIL over and over again.
    What about a sense of goddamn proportion, DIA?
    What about the prudent allocation of limited resources (time, personnel, courts) to take out social smallpox ahead of pouring resources into a cure for ingrown toenails?

  8. Rob Hamlin

    The trouble is Elizabeth that when that day comes it will be past the statute of limitations or it will be a historical case, or like the Blue Chip case just abandoned it will too expensive for aggrieved parties to pursue as a self funded civil case. Today’s report on National Radio indicated that the fines of a few tens of thousands of dollars and 75 hours community service will be the end of this matter that involved the loss to depositors of tens of millions of dollars (which must have ended up in someone’s bank account because money doesn’t just disappear. The current risk/return profile of this kind of activity indicates to a cold blooded risk taker that it’s just worth doing – That’s the problem – And as a result more will do it.

    • Further to Rob’s comment:

      ### RNZ News Updated at 9:35 am today
      Blue Chip liquidators end legal action
      Liquidators for the Blue Chip group of companies are dropping legal action against the failed company’s former directors and auditors. Blue Chip collapsed in 2008, owing 2000+ investors more than $84 million. One of the liquidators, Jeff Meltzer, said the company has suspended a $40 million claim on behalf of investors. He said the liquidators had been unable to obtain the funding needed for what could have been a lengthy legal process. Mr Meltzer said the scale and complexity of the legal proceedings had proved too challenging for potential funders of the action. He said creditors will be advised as soon as possible about what will happen next with the liquidation.
      RNZ News Link

  9. Anonymous

    That reminds me of the Stakeholders’ Mayor Dave Cull. His most recent example of avoiding accountability:

    Mr Cull ruled he was not prepared to ”waste council money finding out what might have happened three years ago”.

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    This from Rob Hamlin’s post “when that day comes it will be past the statute of limitations” raises serious questions about what investigation are carried out – since there is strong evidence that some of higher impact are not – and why those are prioritised. It’s hard to imagine a Mongrel Mob member having social or political influence that would encourage individuals >> the organsisation as a whole, to drop him down the priority list over and over till the risk of “inconvenient” action was over because of the amount of time that had elapsed. Conspiracy theory? If it walks like a duck perhaps it’s a disabled spaniel [quoth Occam, sending himself up].

    • I think they call it institutionalised theft (DIA). However, there is still time left. And that time, Maarten Quivooy, is better spent not taking trips abroad at taxpayer expense. Conscience, do you have one Maarten?

  11. Peter

    The targeting of the Mongrel Mob is obviously easier pickings to show the authorities are ‘getting on top of crime’. A few years ago we had a Mongrel Mob family a few doors down. No problem at all for the neighbourhood.
    If they became more political, and targeted white collar criminals, instead of other poor people, they might even become more respectable in the eyes of many. Baader/Meinhof gang… with tats.
    In my book, white collar criminals are far worse. Far more insidious and dangerous.

  12. Hype O'Thermia

    Yes, one look at his photo and all “right-thinking people” will feel safe, These People can’t get away with it. Would anyone bet that the expensively suited pokie rorters don’t feel that he’s in a totally different category from their respectable selves? No fellow-feeling, no “there but for the grace of God (a.k.a. the DIA’s helpful sense of priorities) go I”.

  13. Anonymous

    Come on. You are denying them their golf outings, expensive clubs, fancy cars, big yachts, expansive houses, ‘escorts’ and blow. Why should it be their problem if you lose your investments, your life savings, your hopes and your home? …Most of these greedy and ultra-wealthy individuals can affect positions of influence and even DIA bureaucrats – like many of those who poison the councils of this city – have high paid jobs they can no longer afford to lose. It’s a great and useful tool for keeping your minions in line – keep them beyond their means, preferably in debt, owing something to somebody. It is well known that several individuals here would not think twice about ‘change managing’ your job security over a glass of brandy at Dunedin Club.

  14. ### stuff.co.nz Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013
    Ministry stone-walling on SkyCity – Labour
    By Catherine Harris
    A Parliamentary select committee has expressed disquiet over a lack of information from the former Ministry of Economic Development (MBIE), particularly regarding its dealings with SkyCity on the planned national convention centre. After conducting its annual review of the MED, the commerce select committee chastised the former ministry – now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – for failing to fully answer many of its questions. At one point the committee was forced to remind the ministry it expected “full and frank responses by departments to its questions,” and called officials back for an unusual second hearing . Labour party committee members, who are in the minority on the committee, made a separate statement that there seemed to be an “unfortunate pattern of denial of legitimate information” within the ministry.
    Read more

    • ### ODT Online Thu, 7 Feb 2013
      Report on ORFU confirmed
      By Hamish McNeilly
      The Department of Internal Affairs has confirmed the existence of a commissioned report on the Otago Rugby Football Union’s involvement with pokies, but continues to withhold the material. The Otago Daily Times revealed last year the union was involved in buying three Auckland bars, with the intention of setting up its own pokie trust.[…]At the time of finalising the union’s recovery package, New Zealand Rugby Union officials confirmed there were ”potential issues relating to funds obtained from gaming trusts”.
      Read more

    • ### Stuff Online Last updated 15:52 19/02/2013
      SkyCity report slates Government ministers
      By Kate Chapman and Vernon Small
      SkyCity remains interested in continuing negotiations over a $350 million convention centre despite a report slating officials and ministers. SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison confirmed the position today. “We remain willing to invest up to $350 million to develop, own and operate the New Zealand International Convention Centre, provided acceptable returns can be delivered on the total project,’’ Morrison said in a statement.
      The comment came after the report by Deputy Auditor-General Phillippa Smith into the negotiations was released. The report raised concerns about the lack of documentation and analysis for the procurement process. There was too much focus on the politics and commercial interest and not enough on proper process, Smith’s report said. “Although decisions were made on the merits of the different proposals, we do not consider that the evaluation process was transparent or even handed.” Meetings with between the Government and SkyCity were “materially different in quantity and kind” to those between the Government and other parties.
      Read more

      • Of interest to promoters of the waterfront hotel* for Dunedin, given Mr Key PM’s insistence on gambling and conferencing as a neat-oh marriage in heaven for the visitor industry. It’s like the Old Boy suits have got together around the country and ‘shared an idea’. Amazing, the lack of originality and sudden preponderance. Catering to base instincts.

        Not sure where Dunedin Casino fits yet. Perhaps it doesn’t.

        *(how to change that plan annotation saying ‘Banquet hall’ to ‘Gaming lounge’, yip overlooking harbour and railway shunting yards)

        ### ODT Online Wed, 27 Feb 2013
        SkyCity in frame for Queenstown convention centre
        SkyCity Entertainment will be the preferred operator for Queenstown’s proposed convention centre in plans released today. Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden said in a statement the project, yet to get approval, would be taken forward by a consortium led by Ngai Tahu Property Limited and Morrison & Co. She also announced the consortium had chosen SkyCity Entertainment Group as its preferred operator. SkyCity took full ownership of the Queenstown casino in December, buying the other 40% previously held by co-owner Skyline Enterprises Ltd.
        Read more

        • Oh yep, Key is in the picture. Fortuitous timing for the booster PM to be ‘south’, pushing RMA changes in the hotbed of regional development that is soon to include SkyCity, with more casino gambling to follow (wait for it).

          ### ODT Online Sat, 2 Mar 2013
          PM backs centre
          By Christina McDonald and James Beech
          With the Government reviewing the Resource Management Act, Prime Minister John Key said it was hoped the planning and approval process for new developments, such as the proposed Queenstown convention centre, would be made quicker.

          [Mr Key] said he did not rule out a financial contribution from the Government towards the centre, but would wait for details of the proposal from the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

          He said as Tourism Minister he was ”acutely aware” of the importance of a centre to Queenstown and saw it as part of a national strategy linked with Auckland and Christchurch centres.
          Read more

          Hahaha – no mention of the (cough) ‘aggressive’ conference centre trade in Dunedin. Local boys been passed by. Eion and Michael are up to tricks. All they’ll back in Dunedin is a shabby hotel by railway shunting yards – while the real money is made at the Lakes. As we all predicted… Dunedin won’t be clipping any ticket, much – why isn’t Betterways Advisory Ltd ‘advising’ its client to sink its capital into the resort town ? That’s the $100m question.

        • ### ODT Online Wed, 6 Mar 2013
          Dunne warns Key of ticking ‘time-bomb’
          By Adam Bennett – New Zealand Herald
          Government support partner Peter Dunne has sent a “time-bomb warning” to Prime Minister John Key, saying his “cut through” approach over the SkyCity convention centre and Hobbit law changes risks becoming a major problem. The United Future Leader’s vote may prove crucial to passing Gambling Act changes required to secure the Government’s international convention centre deal with SkyCity. -APNZ
          Read more

        • As night follows day.

          ### ODT Online Thu, 25 Apr 2013
          Government may contribute to centre: PM
          By Rosie Manins
          The Government may contribute funding to a proposed convention centre in Queenstown, Prime Minister John Key says. Speaking at Trenz in Auckland yesterday, Mr Key – Minister for Tourism – said government funding would not be ruled out. He had yet to be asked for money towards the proposed facility, but expected such a request to be forthcoming ”from everything I hear every time I’m down there [Queenstown]”.
          Read more

  15. Hype O'Thermia

    What’s this then, working up to doing them like a dinner, or finding ways to “manage” the problems until they fit into the “not worth getting worked up about so we had a full and frank conversation with them and can report that some misunderstandings that had resulted in inappropriate methodologies have been clarified, and we do not perceive need for punitive follow-through risking disproportionate damage ” category?

    • Can’t name and shame ORFU, or NZRU, for covering up fraud, nope. That would be heresy. DIA would have to get honest. Public Service is all about whitewash and corruption in that quarter, don’t forget (salaries and perks to retain).

  16. Robert Hamlin

    The latest:

    “The Otago Daily Times revealed last year the union was involved in buying three Auckland bars, with the intention of setting up its own pokie trust.”

    Revealed it, did they indeed….. They certainly did not reveal it to me or to any of the many people who frequent this site for the purposes of accessing information that is not subject to ‘editorial confidentiality’. This information had been in the public area for some considerable time before this supposed ‘revelation’. They particularly did not reveal it to Martin Legge who was the prime public source of the information and who has been shouting about it for years, or to the DIA who have been sitting on it for yonks.

    All you can say in response is, like the recent boat picture and (mis)-captioning; ‘What a whoppa that one is!’

    One can only assume that it is another sub-editing oversight, and that there was no intent to deceive the public by inferring that McPravda were the original pubic source of this information via acts of investigative journalism.

    The English language is a precision instrument and should be used as such by any professional media outlet. One can only ‘reveal’ something that has not been ‘revealed’ already by someone else. If one publishes something subsequently to a related content build up in other public arenas that are outside of one’s editorial control, then the correct verb to describe the action is ‘reported’.

    • The claim might be (today) that ODT published on ORFU before Martin Legge went public – I haven’t googled it.

      ODT’s Hamish McNeilly has been on the case a long time and is still digging – journalists going for “the facts” right now is a good thing!

  17. Hype O'Thermia

    Or “For revealed read admitted throughout”.

  18. Russell Garbutt

    I wonder just how much Hamish McNeilly is allowed to work on this story? He has, for a very long time, been in a number of conversations with Martin Legge, who I understand gave him a great deal of information. He knows exactly what has been going on and who is involved. BUT, the editorial staff and/or ownership of the ODT have so far, prevented the ODT reporting exactly what is going on in their own back yard. It has been left to the reporters in an Auckland based newspaper – the Sunday Star Times – to spill the major beans.

    I for one, challenge the ODT to stop their blind support for those in our community who have been involved in these pokie fund rorts, and start to become fearless in their pursuit of truth and transparency. By not doing so they are condoning the very actions of those fraudsters who pose as pillars of our community.

  19. Russell Garbutt

    Here is a hint for Hamish – try running a story based on where the ORFU got the money to buy the bars in Auckland, and try and see where the necessary cash appears in the Annual published and audited accounts of the ORFU. Tracking down the cash flows is central to the story Hamish.

  20. Hype O'Thermia

    Gaming lounges don’t require a view, indeed they require a lack of view, clocks and other reminders of the outside world. Perfect choice for a room overlooking a shunting yard!

    • Hmm, the architects for the proposed Lakes convention centre are Populous – same people who designed that dreadful cowshed down near the waterfront here in Dunedin, the one that can be converted for elephants.

      No surprise, linkages linkages. It’s at Eiontown, after all.

      This is due to that piece of filth John Key laying in the vision of tourism (exercising the low wage second tier economy) and More white collar corruption for New Zealand, while ‘the people’ can’t put breakfast and lunch on the table for the children, and our rivers are sewers, without clean-up… for ever and ever, amen.


  21. Whippet

    “The centre which would be financially neutral to ratepayers” Yeah Right. just like Dunedin’s great white elephant, with the same people backing both?

  22. Here’s a story about Maarten Quivooy who did a runner from DOL to DIA………………..

    ### tvnz.co.nz Published: 7:25PM updated 20:08 Wednesday April 10, 2013
    Apology to Pike River families as report cites ‘systemic failures’
    Source: ONE News
    The Department of Labour’s role in the lead up to the deadly Pike River explosion in 2010 was “dysfunctional and ineffectual”, a report has found. The damning verdict is in the findings and recommendations of the independent investigation into the Pike River tragedy, along with an apology to the families of the 29 Pike River miners who died in the explosion. The report was commissioned by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment chief executive David Smol.
    The investigation conducted by David Shanks and Jane Mears found there “were actions or (more often) inactions” on the part of officials at the Department of Labour (DOL) and the former Ministry of Economic Development (MED), which is now part of MBIE, that may have contributed to the tragedy. “But they did not find evidence of carelessness, incompetence or breach of policy on the part of any staff including managers that would merit an employment investigation,” states the report.

    “The investigators concluded instead that systemic failures in the agencies meant that an employment investigation is not warranted.”

    The investigators found that the DOL’s performance as a health and safety regulator was “dysfunctional and ineffectual” at Pike River. “In using workplace fatality statistics to set its strategic health and safety agenda, it omitted to consider the potential for catastrophic events,” the report said. They also state that the MED’s assessment and monitoring of Pike’s mining permit was discharged in a “light-handed and perfunctory way”. “Health and safety considerations were explicitly excluded from the overall assessment to be undertaken,” the report said.
    Read more + Video (1:26)

    • ### ODT Online Thu, 11 Apr 2013
      Angry Pike River families slam report
      Source: APNZ
      Upset families of the 29 men killed at Pike River “cannot accept” findings of a report that absolves government employees of any blame for the 2010 tragedy.

      Despite “systemic failures” and “inactions” that contributed to the Pike River Mine disaster, no one at the old Department of Labour or Ministry of Economic Development will be held accountable, families of the workers were told last night.

      The report was highly critical of both departments and prompted an apology to the families – but their spokesman, Bernie Monk, called it hollow and said there should be accountability. […] Mr Monk said it was refreshing to hear the departments admit fault, but it was not enough.
      Officials from the former government departments, now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, met the families in Greymouth to discuss the report. It said that despite a “light-handed and perfunctory” approach to health and safety regulation at the mine, an employment investigation was not warranted. Ministry chief executive David Smol said the breadth of failures outlined in the report was “sobering,” and apologised to families of the dead men.
      Read more

  23. Hey, wasn’t Mr Quivooy of DIA fame a former ‘head honcho’ of the Department of Labour overseeing mine inspections? He hopped out ‘lickety split’ when the Pike River disaster happened. Say no more.

  24. Martin Legge

    You are right Calvin, Quivooy replaced Mike Hill, the former head of Gambling Compliance at a time when DIA restructured and upgraded Hill’s job.

    Apparently, Mike Hill was not happy with missing out and it also raised eyebrows amongst junior DIA staff. How someone with no knowledge of the gambling sector suddenly scores the top job, only months after a national tragedy and a commission of enquiry into his old job.

    Love to see Quivooy’s CV and whether he was required to undergo the same tests as the other candidates.

  25. Mr Key talks about convention centres in Auckland (already part of a government rort) and Christchurch, as well as the Queenstown proposal. No mention of Dunedin’s new ‘swanky’ Town Hall Conference Centre. I wonder why? Could it be that Dunedin just doesn’t rate (except of course its citizens). Besides, no-one yet has done any meaningful research into just where all these conferences are to originate from. Again, I wonder why.

  26. Pike River

    As suspected, the dirty deal made by the Crown to ensure Whittall wasn’t thrown before the courts. A letter turns up.

    (today) http://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9768680/Whittall-part-of-Pike-deal

    • Pike River: Labour accuse Govt of dodgy deal

      “The letter released to Labour shows Mr Whittall’s lawyer claimed he would have a good defence which would focus on the role of the Department of Labour’s mine inspectors.”

      Maarten Quivooy was a manager responsible for those inspectors and after the disaster he either jumped or was pushed. Then hey presto he lands the top job at DIA in charge of the corrupted pokie industry over a very competent incumbent. Was that job a means to keep Quivooy loyal to the Government while the Pike River risks fallout was managed, as we are now seeing???


  27. Martin Legge

    Maarten Quivooy is an eloquent spinner of bullshit and now he is applying his skills to the pokie industry with considerable success. He’s convinced the media, the Office of the Auditor General and now the Serious Fraud Office that the investigation into TTCF, ORFU and Racing involving millions of dollars of community funds from the Jokers bars was both thorough and serious while hiding the fact that the file containing all the evidence was actually lost by his dept and never investigated. A true modern day Government servant!!!

  28. What’s with this Maarten Quivooy fellow? Is he the black sheep of some ‘pukka English family’? Perhaps he is the result of an indiscretion by Prince Charles, sent to the colonies, with a ‘wink & nod’ to the GG in that colony, to see that he is well looked after and protected from his own shortcomings. Just a thought, because he certainly seems to have led a chapter of misadventures within the Public Service without a blemish. Could have been worse, he could have been gifted a high country sheep station.

  29. ### radionz.co.nz Updated at 3:37 pm on 1 March 2014
    Govt tight-lipped on Pike mine deal
    The Government won’t say whether it will release documents that are claimed to show it initiated discussions to resolve charges against the former Pike River mine chief executive, Peter Whittall. Government agency Worksafe says it did not solicit payments for the Pike River families.
    Mr Whittall’s lawyer, Stuart Grieve QC, wrote to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in October proposing a $3.4 million payout to the families of the 29 men who died, in return for the charges being dropped, which they were in December. He says three letters show the ministry, which includes Worksafe, initiated the discussion about resolving the charges, and he wants the letters made public.
    Worksafe won’t say whether it initiated the conversations.
    Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn says the Government should release all correspondance it had with Peter Whittall’s lawyers and the public needs to know the truth. Mr Kokshoorn also says the three letters show the ministry initiated the discussion about resolving the charges.
    Worksafe won’t say whether it initiated the conversations but says it did not solicit payments for the families.
    Labour Party justice spokesperson Andrew Little says all correspondence should be released immediately to ease public anxiety that a tawdry deal was done. Mr Little says if the Crown was nervous about its case or felt the need to capitulate, the public needs to know why.
    A spokesperson for Labour Minister Simon Bridges has refused to comment.
    Worksafe has previously said problems with witness availability was the main reason for dropping the charges.
    RNZ News Link

  30. Hype O'Thermia

    Ah, a return to the good old days when a fiver (five pound note) in the booklet-style driver’ s license was enough to make the traffic cop “forget” he’d caught you speeding, or being unable to walk a straight line.
    The Pike River $millions simply reflects inflation – doesn’t it?

    I wonder if the current government has plans to liberalise bribery, making it an option for the ordinary citizen the way it used to be when dealing with the authorities.

  31. Witness availability!!!??? What in the world does this mean? Witnesses that might blow the cover of crap government employees more like. We have already seen how Dept of Labour mine safety bureaucrats have been spirited away into other departments, Maarten Quivooy to DIA is a case in point. He has already shown in that position to be one of loose standards. The sad people of the Pike River disaster are just the latest victims of vast government corruption. Yet we still see the polls say people are happy with our Mr Key. Staggering really. When corrupt lawyers and top public toadies get together, people like Mr Whittall go free, the victims just languish.

  32. {Received at another thread. -Eds}

    Rob Hamlin
    Submitted on 2014/03/05 at 12:37 pm

    I am always in favour of accountability, but one needs to consider the odds. In 2012 Solid Energy (Government owned, cash-strapped, but supposedly independent company) paid $7.5 million for the ‘assets’ of Pike River Coal. Those ‘assets’ at the time largely consisted of a useless hole full of corpses. They are of course highly embarrassing corpses to some, and maybe an embarrassing hole as well if it were to be re-entered and certain fittings, fixtures and related forensics properly examined.

    This link :
    gives the full documentation that is associated with that sale. The ‘Body Recovery Deed’ is of particular interest.

    Having looked through it, it seems that the Piker River miners will remain safely buried for some time to come. Quite possibly the contents will be fully degraded, the relatives elderly and discouraged and any relevant statutes of limitation long gone before the time is finally ‘right’ to re-enter the mine – if it ever is.

    The Body Recovery Deed’s’ requirement that the recovery be ‘financially credible’ is open to interpretation and I suspect it will always remain stubbornly ‘incredible’. There also appears to be no sunset clause on this state of ‘incredibility’. The fiscal outcomes of Solid Energy’s many other equally fiscally useless fringe ‘investments’ will assist in maintaining this argument.

    The Body Recovery Deed also seems to contain no safeguards against the site being destroyed or rendered permanently inaccessible by future mining operations. Indeed the general stated position (Section 4.1) is that any body recovery that does occur will be an (unlikely) by-product future mining operations, which indicates that destruction by future operations or simply abandonment to decay is the anticipated outcome for these remains.

    Obviously some curious and inconvenient soul may come up with a truly ‘credible’ amount of third party cash. Good luck to them. Firstly, they will have to get round the fact that the Body Recovery Deed requires any such independent recovery money to be paid into an ‘independent’ trust that has five trustees appointed solely by the Government. This Trust would then pay the money to Solid Energy to undertake the work under the Trust’s direction (presumably with no guarantee of success).

    A further complication is that there’s always the hurdle of the additional ‘safety requirement’ within the Body Recovery Deed to be crossed over. No doubt these safety requirements would be rigorously enforced by the authorities this time round – perhaps to the point where even a well-funded recovery proposal would fail to gain the necessary approval, or it would be approved but the condition attached to such approval would render it ‘fiscally incredible’ (in the eyes of the five government appointed trustees at least). All this would of course backed up by the authority and veto powers of ‘private and independent’ site ownership.

    The Government have indicated they will give no cash to recovery attempt., These other hurdles strongly suggest that an independently funded attempt would also have little chance of success.

    We are annoyed about being worse off and we seek accountability. At least our relatives are not dead. So, ask yourself this as the Pike River relatives continue their quest for some form of accountability. A quest that now seems increasingly hopeless in the absence of hard evidence – If you were a cash strapped company, would YOU pay $7.5 million for a hole full of corpses – and exactly why would you pay it?

  33. Elizabeth

    As alerted by Calvin Oaten this morning (ODT 12.9.14, p.12), click to enlarge:


  34. Elizabeth

    Solid Energy and Worksafe at odds over mine re-entry
    Wed, 24 Sep 2014
    Solid Energy and Worksafe are at loggerheads over whether Mines Rescue will be allowed to walk the 2.4km up the Pike River Mine entry tunnel, with only one way in and out.
    Documents released under the Official Information Act today confirm that Worksafe is comfortable with the re-entry process, but Solid Energy’s own legal advice has put it in doubt. State-owned Solid Energy bought the mine after the November 2010 explosion that killed 29 men, who still lie under the mountain.

    More at http://www.odt.co.nz/node/317011

  35. Martin Legge

    This has all the hallmarks of the Mt Erebus disaster where commercial interests of the national carrier were rigorously defended. The fact is the bodies lying at Pike River are evidence and therefore have the potential to support or negate criminal or civil action against a company, individual or a Government Department. As we see in politics, commercial interests will not give anything away that could weaken their position even when men have died and it’s morally reprehensible.

  36. Elizabeth

    Martin, your point is very well made. If the evidence continues to be withheld (by keeping it buried) it will be to New Zealand’s eternal regret.

  37. Martin Legge

    The Pike River Commission of Inquiry strongly suggested that the Labour Department Management had created and submitted safety plans that did not represent the reality of what their inspectors were doing at the mine.

    Compare the extreme danger at the mine with other workplaces. When a small time roofer or builder works on a building without proper safety scaffolding, a Labour Inspector will inevitably appear and issue an instant $3000 fine.

  38. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Thu, 25 Sep 2014
    Pike River mine entered last month
    By Laura Mills – Greymouth Star
    The mines inspectorate entered the Pike River Mine for the first time a month ago, papers released under the Official Information Act show. It was the first time rescuers had entered the mine since the disaster almost four years ago. Documents released to the Greymouth Star today reveal that staff from Worksafe, the mines inspectorate, did in fact go underground as far as a 170m seal last month. Mines Rescue built the seal 170m inside the drift, or main tunnel in mid 2011. APNZ
    Read more

  39. Elizabeth

    And why was the release of the information delayed until after the election result was declared? (ODT)

    ### ODT Online Fri, 26 Sep 2014
    Editorial: Question of integrity
    Prime Minister John Key and Solid Energy have some questions to address on the safety or otherwise of entering the drift at Pike River Mine following the release of a report this week. An Official Information Request revealed WorkSafe New Zealand and Mine Rescue had advised Solid Energy it was technically feasible to re-enter the mine. A staged plan to re-enter the mine and explore the tunnel up to a rockfall about 2.3km in from the mine portal has been approved and the Government has committed $7.2 million to the effort.
    Read more

  40. The Pike River families said they did not accept the decision, based on their own British experts advice that the re-entry of the drift was technically feasible and could be achieved within the required international safety standards.

    ### ODT Online Thu, 6 Nov 2014
    Pike River: Solid ‘did everything they could’ – PM
    By Isaac Davison – New Zealand Herald and NZME
    Prime Minister John Key says Solid Energy “did everything they possibly could” to recover the bodies of 29 miners at Pike River. He said Government had accepted the company’s decision to abandon recovery efforts, which was revealed to the victims’ families last night. Government ministers also confirmed that the mine would be converted into conservation land and preserved as a memorial.
    Read more

  41. Elizabeth

    The big point about yesterdays decision is the State continues to fight all the way against the demand for justice for these families.

    ### thestandard.org.nz 4:16 pm, February 25th, 2015
    The Continuing Fight for Justice at Pike River
    By Helen Kelly
    Yesterday the families lost only a small bit of the battle for justice at Pike in an application to get some of the documentation relating to the decision to dismiss the charges against Peter Whittall relating to the Pike River Mine explosion. […] The CTU is supporting two of the families in this case for a judicial review of this decision and with a solid backing from many of the other families as well. MBIE is fighting hard to maintain the secrecy of the deal that saw the Crown accept money in exchange for a criminal discharge for one of this countries worst cases of health and safety failures.
    Read more

  42. Martin Legge

    The Government doesn’t want a court process and the inevitable cross examination to explore and expose the negligence of the Dept of Labour and its high paid management over Pike River. Labour Dept Managers such as Maarten Quivooy departed; and he was appointed as head of Gambling Regulation at DIA. This occurred at the time I was whistleblowing for DIA and also receiving from DIA insiders who wanted me to do their dirty work and expose discrepancies in Quivooy’s appointment.

  43. Elizabeth

    Stellar performance by Quivooy since he ‘happened’ into DIA, not.

    Millions and millions of dollars of gambling funds have slipped through fingers on his watch, at the behest of powerful people including the Ministers —as Martin Legge has been explaining these last years, the pokie trusts such as TTCF with their trustees have never been prosecuted – and pokie grant recipients like the white collar thug-burghers of ORFU and the Centre of Excellence for Amateur Sport, have never been picked up.

    The investigation files still exist, thanks to Martin and his colleagues; followed up on, officially, these have the potential to wreck national havoc. But for successive governments the job is too expensive for “High Society”.

    People are still following comments about Operation Chestnut at this website, as well as cumulative posts on the futile, pathetic and devious work of DIA in avoidance of its regulatory functions.

    History eventually gains examination, the archives open, see war crimes ?! ………….

    Hopefully, justice for the Pike River families comes faster than the half century – the National-led government should be deeply ashamed.

  44. Elizabeth

    Link received.

    ### NZ Herald Online 9:49 AM Thursday Aug 27, 2015
    Government contempt too overwhelming to ignore
    By Dita De Boni – business columnist, NZ Herald
    OPINION There is no evidence to suggest private interests run state services better than the Government.
    Shortly after the explosions at Pike River in November 2010, John Key stood “in solidarity” with those who had lost loved ones in the disaster – 29 men; fathers, brothers and sons.
    The speech he gave at the remembrance service was moving. In it, he talked about the pain of a close-knit community losing so many lives far too young; about the burden of growing up without a father, and about the beauty of the Paparoa Ranges where the men lie. He spoke of their retrieval, and of efforts to get to the bottom of that terrible disaster.

    Not four years later, and at a meeting to hear from the Pike River families about the special, personal importance to them of strong health and safety laws in New Zealand workplaces, not one National Party MP was present.

    Not only that, but strong workplace safety laws look to have been watered down by the unholy influence of the party’s friends in business, in my opinion spurred on by the particular disdain the Nats hold for anyone – be they public health advocates, unions, civil servants, scientists or anyone else – with views that discomfit their friends.
    Read more

    █ Related article and comments at The Standard (blog):

    Note this from Ovid
    27 August 2015 at 4:27 pm
    I mentioned it in Open Mike, but I’ll repeat it here, Murray Kirkness has been appointed as the weekday editor of the Herald. He used to be editor of the ODT and did a reasonable job of it, so there may yet be a re-balancing of the Herald still.

  45. Calvin Oaten

    The government’s and John Key’s treatment of the Pike River families is indicative of its indifference. Right from the get go John Key promised no stone would be unturned nor money spared to recover the victims. Five years on, The smiling assassin simply walked away.

    Written by Calvin Oaten September 2012

    The Pike River Mine

    It was 2010, when a body of men, went to their shift in the mine,
    just another day, earning their pay, hewing out coal in Pike River Mine,
    a rushing of gas, a mighty big flash, giant explosion, tunnel implosion,
    those twenty nine trapped, at the end of the line,
    families distraught, at their men being caught, when will they see them again,
    no one to ask, no one to tell, it all was a day, just right out of hell.

    Please Mr Key, bring my man back to me,
    forget the dollars on your bottom line,
    please don’t you see, it’s no place to be,
    for my man, lying, in the Pike River Mine. 

    The rescue was taken by men dressed in blue, just how to do that,
    they hadn’t a clue, for days it was meetings, committees and all,
    but to try a rescue was never the call. At the end of the day, when all had their say,
    those that were left could could only just pray, where was the company, we needed to know,
    their tears and their fears, was all they could show, but never a move for those down below. 

    Please Mr Key, bring my boy back to me,
    forget the dollars on your bottom line,
    please don’t you see, it’s no place to be,
    for my boy, lying, in the Pike River Mine.

    Then came the talk, what was there to do, nothing but words, there 
    were quite a few. A memorial service, for those in the mine, was all that 
    the loved ones, got for their time. Saying it seems, life’s not worth a dime.
    Suits there aplenty, all adding opine, of their kind thought for those in the mine.
    Folks there filled, with pangs of regret, hopes for their loved ones, they’ll never forget.
    End of the day, when all melt away, leaving just memories, of those in the mine.

    Please Mr Key, bring my dad back to me,
    forget the dollars on your bottom line,
    please don’t you see, it’s no place to be,
    for my dad, lying, in the Pike River Mine.

    The receivers, the deceivers, the suits in the line, all talking up, like they give a dime,
    truth is not in there, all just a shame, there never was one, to name or to blame,
    papers and pictures, by the truckload it seems, lies and denials, it seemed all a game,
    pollys all come to pronounce and to preen, the outcome was always plain to be seen,
    came to the pay out, they all stood in line, with hardly a thought for those in the mine,
    loved ones are lost, just left with a name, to cherish, remember, a love in the mine.

    Please Mr Key, bring them all back to we,
    forget the dollars on your bottom line
    please don’t you see, it’s no place to be
    for our twenty nine, in the Pike River Mine.

  46. photonz

    So you want Key to order people to go in to try to recover the bodies?

    Despite expert safety advice saying it is too dangerous to send people in?

    And despite it not being Key’s decision?

    If another dozen people are killed trying to recover remains or ashes, who will you blame? Key?

    Hypocritically, I’ve seen the same people complain we need tighter health and safety laws, and complain that we haven’t gone back into Pike River.

    Over $5m was spent on recovery plans.

    Terribly sad as it is, when it comes down to it, we’re better off using that sort of money to save live people.

  47. Elizabeth

    Calvin’s writing probably speaks to the tenor of its time (September 2012)reasonably well – the mining disaster having taken place on 19 November 2010. I agree, photonz, at any time now and previously it would have been irresponsible to endanger lives through attempts at retrieval of the remains of the dead men – at this particular mine. As to the political handling of the disaster and its aftermath and the contributing factors that led up to it, that is the sinister thing.

  48. photonz

    There’s the problem though – we don’t know if a miner did something totally idiotic which set the explosion off, or if it was something else.

    Clearly safety wasn’t what it should have been, but we don’t actually know if that would have made any difference. It’s quite possible that the release of gas and explosion was very sudden, as is often the case with coal mine explosions. If that’s the case, it’s possible no safety factors would have stopped any of the four explosions.

    In the meantime, Peter Whittall was a bit of a hero the way he handled things, then he said to be responsible and became a demon, even though he’d only just started at the job.

    The anti-Key people say it’s all Key’s fault, as is everything apparently.

    The Govt put in several million dollars to look at recovering the remains.

    If the safety advice is to not re-enter the mine, it would be pretty stupid for them to do so.

  49. Rob Hamlin


    You can save live people by finding out why other live people became dead people in similar situations. This for example forms the primary motivation for air crash investigation. Mine disaster investigation too – in other countries. It has been apparent throughout the time since the disaster that there has been no high level will to re-enter this mine to establish exactly why this explosion happened, and how its reoccurrence might be prevented. The contrast between this attitude and the speedy and courageous extraction of a group of miners from a vastly more challenging situation in a supposedly less developed country in South America hardly reflects well upon arrangements here.

    One of Solid Energy’s most bizarre acts of many was the multimillion-dollar purchase of this supposedly unenterable hole full of corpses. Why on Earth did they do so? If you look at the documentation that accompanied Solid Energy’s acquisition of this site, their ownership (via payment of public funds) gave them the powers of veto over any entry to this mine, even if those who wished to do so were third parties that had the mind to take the risk and had the money to make it happen. That veto was of course exercised, and re-entry frustrated.

    I would be very surprised if ownership of this particular mine and its associated right of veto to re-entry ever comes on the open market as Solid Energy is taken apart. That particular asset is likely to remain firmly in ‘safe’ hands for a long, long while methinks. Am I alone in thinking that there’s something other than corpses down that hole that some well-connected folks don’t want lookin’ at?

  50. photonz

    It is a little bit absurd to compare the effort put is to save live miners, who would die if not rescued, to the effort to recover what is probably at best some ashes (after four explosions whose flames came out of the mine entrance, 1.5km past the miners).

    I realise you see everything from a conspiracy doomsday scenario, but there are actually mine explosions in coal mines across the world, where it is often deemed too dangerous to recover bodies (ie in USA three years prior to Pike River – after three rescuers were also killed).

    The govt put the money up to go back in. If you think it was safe to go back in, you should tell the mining experts why they are wrong.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      The reason for seeing a “conspiracy” is glaringly obvious. It’s a mine too dangerous to enter to retrieve bodies, if indeed any recognisable parts remained (it’s a fair point you made there, photonz), or as Rob says to learn whatever can be gleaned about why the explosion happened in the first place, then subsequent explosions, falls, fire. Each mine rescue – and indeed miners get brought out alive – draws on knowledge accumulated in this dangerous industry by people who undertook very dangerous post-disaster work. The men did not die in the first shock, there were men ready and willing to take the decision to risk their own lives to attempt rescue, but they were forbidden. It’s a man thing (human thing really) in high-risk occupations, you put your life on the line for the other soldier / miner / diver because you know if the situation were reversed he’d do that for you. It’s not a way of life suited to everyone, it’s demanding in many ways that the rest of us don’t even need to think about in our own lives. Non-miners should not have made the decision to forbid them, it’s up to them – and for their kids and parents and partners to urge them not to do it or not do it, nobody else has skin in the game.

      So, what’s the conspiracy? The purchase by Solid Energy, of course!
      “One of Solid Energy’s most bizarre acts of many was the multimillion-dollar purchase of this supposedly unenterable hole full of corpses,” as Rob wrote. What was its commercial value, really, in the circumstances? Considering the amount of coal, the practicalities of extracting it, the market, and fury that would erupt were anyone to start crashing around with machinery and explosives all over the only resting place of those dead miners so even a completely different access to another part of the coal deposits would have to be created, in my estimation the value would have been best represented by a token payment of $1 – especially since it was immediately made off-limits to one and all, not so much as a coal-scuttle full of coal was taken out and sold since that purchase by Solid Energy.

      What independent privately owned business does that? Can you imagine the next shareholders’ meeting if they did? So – why?

  51. photonz

    If people had risked their lives and gone in after the first explosion, they would most likely have been killed by the second, third or fourth explosions.

    And we’d have even more families grieving, for nothing.

    Pike River was valued at $400m before the explosions, so Solid Energy buying it for less than 2% of that on a chance it may be reopened, is hardly some big conspiracy.

    It was certainly a risky buy, but that is more than compensated in business terms by in the fact they paid less than 2% of it’s previous value.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “[T]hey paid less than 2% of it’s previous value.” Yessss… but what was its value at the time of purchase? Previous value is irrelevant – ask Christchurch people!

  52. photonz

    It’s obviously a business decision, and there was high risk involved.

    But for a little bit of perspective, it cost Solid Energy LESS than 1% of their 2012 turnover to buy the whole Pike River Mine and all the mining rights.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Turnover is not profit, not “winnings” to go on a shopping spree with. And again, what was its value at the time of purchase?

      A $500 Porsche would be a bargain if it goes well for 6 months till the warrant runs out then you sell it for scrap. If it can’t be driven at all, won’t pass w.o.f. and its scrap value is $200 tops, it’s a waste of money. A scratched dinged old Porsche would have been worth megabucks in the past, then over the years its value changed.

      Do you get what I mean when I ask what was the mine’s value at time of purchase? It doesn’t matter whether it *cost* a lot or a little, whether this is a large or small portion of the company’s expenditure – in this case the mine not only wasn’t mined, they ruled it totally out of bounds i.e. unusable. “Investment”? I don’t think so. So why buy it?

      • photonz

        It’s not rocket science. It was worth hundreds of millions if it could be re-opened, and not much if it couldn’t be.

        It’s the sort of decision that businesses make all the time.

        Millions of ordinary Kiwis make the same sort of decision in a smaller way every week. Is the $10 lotto ticket they buy worth $1m or nothing. Despite not definitively knowing, they buy it anyway.

        Last week alone there were a couple of business stories about companies buying other companies in receivership for very low prices, which priced in the potential of getting them up and running again, against the risk of not.

        Saying Solid Energy shouldn’t have bought Pike River because it’s not going to reopen, is like telling someone they shouldn’t have bought a lotto ticket, AFTER you know it hasn’t won anything.

        It’s a bit like predicting yesterday’s weather.

  53. Rob Hamlin

    Not all the experts thought that it could not be reentered. Perhaps not even most of them. Even Solid Energy’s expert advisers seemed to think that way for some time according to their reports when said reports were forcibly extracted from Solid Energy via the OIA late last year. See here:


    As for the 2% of prior value thing being a good deal in all circumstances. Well, I guess that Cunard could have bought the Titanic off White Star Line for 2% of its previous day’s value on 16 April 1912, but they never made the offer – Sensible fellows!

    As to your personal (to you and me) ‘realisations’. Do try to play the issue, not the person – To do otherwise is just so tiresomely ‘Gerry Brownleeish’.

  54. photonz

    Rob – No one anywhere has said a 2% deal is good in “all circumstances” – that would be a ridiculous thing to say.

    But buying liqudated assets on the cheap is something that happens all the time in business.

    To me it seems likely that Solid Energy bought Pike River on the premise that the govt would pay for the body recovery, leaving them with the chance to have scooped up a really valuable asset for not much.

    However two years later, after numerous expert safety reports, recovery was deemed too dangerous.

    I see no reason why the managers and directors of Solid Energy would go to such extremes (and take on all the legal liabilities) to cover up some secret down the tunnel, for a totally unrelated people in an unrelated company that they had nothing to do with, as you suggested.

  55. Calvin Oaten

    photonz. You have done an excellent job of covering the arses of Solid Energy, the bureaucrats and government figure heads. But you miss the point of ‘honesty’, ethics, and the plight of the poor families.
    That is what I was alluding to in the first place when I pleaded for Key to forget the bottom line. He, and the rest had no intention of honouring their pledges to the families and to now hide away on the specious grounds that to enter that mine at the time was deemed too dangerous.
    Who decided that? Mining experts with generations of experience? No, a self appointed expert policeman who took charge and simply vacillated for days, then weeks before letting anyone else have a say, by which time it was patently obvious that there was no longer any hope. It was all about gleaning as much political capital as they could. Crass exploitation of a very sad tragic occasion.

    • photonz

      Contrary to your claims, Key DID put up the cash to go back in.

      Contrary to your claims, Solid Energy had multiple safety reports from multiple mining experts – which are publicly available on their website.

      Contrary to you claims, the mine safety experts DID have decades of experience.

      And you seem to ignore the fact that that if the bodies were recovered, Solid Energy had a chance to make hundreds of millions of dollars in reopening the mine – there was huge incentive to get the bodies recovered – not keep it closed.

      And you seem to ignore the fact that in the days after the initial explosion (during the time you say a self appointed policeman was vacillating) there were three more explosions.

      If you sent people in then, you would have killed more people, for not the slightest gain in any way.

  56. russandbev

    For a deep understanding of what went down with Pike, everyone should read the outstanding book by Rebecca Macfie. She gets to the core of all the issues in a way that is accessible and understandable. It is an appalling sequence of events and nothing has changed to rectify the systemic issues that were at the heart of the tragedy. And now we have that supremely incompetent preening little cockerel Woodlouse telling us that hanging curtains and worm farming are the things to worry about. First things though, read Rebecca’s book and then do something about it.

    • Elizabeth

      “I thought for a long time that this was a business story, and one that was relevant and important for the whole country, not just the West Coast”. –Rebecca Macfie.

      ### 3news.co.nz Friday 15 Nov 2013 5:18 p.m.
      New book tells story of Pike River Disaster
      By Kloe Palmer
      The Pike River families returned to a memorial near the mine today for the launch of a book about the tragedy. Journalist Rebecca Macfie says she wrote it so people could gain a better understanding of what went wrong, and to ensure that lessons are learned.
      This afternoon relatives of the victims and members of the West Coast community joined Ms Macfie to launch her book at the memorial site near the mine. It’s a fitting location, as with the bodies still stuck in the mine it is the closest thing to a cemetery the families have got.
      “I think the book is totally enlightening,” says Pike River mother Carol Rose. “As a mother of one of the men I have struggled for the past few years with understanding what happened. “Obviously we don’t know the actual cause of it, but we do know what led up to it because of this book.”
      Ms Macfie says she wrote the book, simply titled “Tragedy at Pike River”, as she felt the disaster was a stain on New Zealand’s history and that the story behind it was one that everyone needed to know. “I’m a journalist; my job is to try and make information accessible, and I guess more than anything that’s been my goal for the book,” she says. The book tells the history of Pike River Coal – the company that owned and ran the mine – and draws on information from the royal commission’s findings and personal interviews.
      Read more + Video

      Tragedy at Pike River Mine [unitybooks.nz][Unity Books]


      Investigation: “The health and safety event of a generation”, Jane Westaway
      Posted on May 29, 2014

      Tragedy at Pike River Mine: How and Why 29 Men Died
      Rebecca Macfie
      Awa Press, $40.00,
      ISBN 9781877551901

      Every New Zealander of voting age should read this book. It recounts the decades-long lead-up to an afternoon, nearly three years ago, when 29 men – some just boys – were killed by a mighty explosion in the West Coast’s Pike River Mine. A tragedy whose occurrence, author Rebecca Macfie makes grimly clear, was a matter not of if but when:

      [M]en like Willie Joynson, who went underground every day to earn a living, and were entitled to the protection of robust safety systems and equipment that left a fat margin for error, were working on the edge. Pike River Mine, which needed to have the best of everything to succeed in its tough environment – the best geological knowledge, the best equipment, the most rigorous safety regime – had the worst of everything. Joynson and his workmates were exposed on all sides by those whose job it was to protect them: a regulator that was submissive and unwilling to use the power that was at its disposal; a board that was incurious, bereft of knowledge and experience of underground coalmining, and unable to see the symptoms of failure; management that was unstable, ill-equipped for the environment, and incapable of putting together all the pieces of its own frightening picture; and a union that was marginalised and irrelevant.

      These calmly stated conclusions come after 180 pages detailing a relentless history of mistake, oversight, lost opportunity and wilful neglect, driven in good part by the tunnel vision of management and board. The light at the end of their tunnel was market-place success; all but invisible to them were the human beings – some their own neighbours – who were paid by the hour to cut the coal from deep within a mountain range so the company could show a profit. These 29 men didn’t just die – they were killed. And how and why should concern us all, especially with an election in sight.
      Read more

  57. Elizabeth

    Comment relocated from another thread:

    Rob Hamlin
    Submitted on 2015/09/11 at 8:04 am

    Also in Mc.P.


    Now one of the more interesting issues here is the supposedly unenterable hole full of corpses (previously known as the Pike River Mine) that is one of the assets that is presumably for sale.

    As they are being sold for their actual worth, rather than book value, this means that this asset should be most reasonably priced with no real reason to bundle it in with any other assets.

    This may be an opportunity for those on the West Coast who have an interest in recovering their dead and finding out how/why they died to acquire title to the mine (and the government’s effective right of refusal to entry), and go in and actually get some answers.

    But of course the Pike River Mine will be safely tied up in some way – and then there will be no doubt as to why it was acquired by Solid Energy in the first place.

  58. Calvin Oaten

    Rob, I suspect that there is no way that this present government would entertain releasing the Pike River Mine from embargo. Apart from the 29 real ghosts there are too many other ‘live’ ghosts circulating to allow that ‘stone to be rolled away’.

  59. Elizabeth

    {Relocated from another thread, relevance – Eds}

    Rob Hamlin
    Submitted on 2015/11/19 at 11:59 pm

    I see that we now have our answer on what will be done with the holeful of corpses at Pike River. This you may recall was acquired by Solid Energy for 7.5 million dollars, after which they promptly said that it was far too dangerous for them, or anybody else, to enter. making it possibly the most bizarre of the many bizarre ‘investments’ that this company made on its way to the receiver.

    This obviously kept said corpses and any other interesting stuff that remained down there safely out of interested parties’ reach. And Solid Energy was robust in discharging their obligations vis-a-vis ‘Elf’n’Safety’. The hole remained firmly shut.

    However, with Solid Energy on the skids and its assets on the block, an intriguing possibility arose that this particular Solid Energy ‘asset’ might be acquired either by a less timorous commercial buyer, or by parties who actually wanted to find out exactly what went on down there. Either way there was a chance that this mine might be reopened, its contents recovered – and its secrets revealed.

    Well….it now appears that this holeful of corpses now belongs to DOC. Thus we may be sure that it is now shut for good and all – or at least for as long as DOC’s masters want it to be. New masters in a future Beehive may think differently of course and DOC, unlike Solid Energy, has to do as it is told. But I have acquired a healthy respect for the capacity of the well-connected in this country to ‘reason with’ politicians who come in with unfortunate agendas.

    But its rapid (and free?) reversion to DOC still leaves, and in fact sharpens, the intriguing question as to why Solid Energy paid 7.5 million for this dead mine in the first place.

    It’s a question that those walking along the new (expensive) memorial walk that will run above these corpses and secrets would do well to ponder, along with the issue as to whether recovering the corpses and a full forensic investigation might have been a more worthwhile and appropriate use of any public memorial budget.

  60. Elizabeth

    Wed, 23 Nov 2016
    Company pulls out of Pike mine sealing work
    The company contracted to supply concrete to permanently plug the Pike River mine has pulled out. […] According to a spokesman for the Pike River families, Allied Concrete would no longer participate in the sealing of the mine and owner Solid Energy had been made aware of this. Allied has contacted Sonya Rockhouse, whose son Ben was killed, to assure her they would halt supply until the dispute over re-entering the mine was resolved. Cont/

  61. Hype O'Thermia

    Funny the way families can’t remember being invited to watch [parts of] this video oooooh, AGES ago. Opportunity offered at 2 – yes two – meetings. Dear me, what forgetful people those Coasters are.
    OTOH the same people reported saying this (RNZ this evening) are the ones who said various other things that over time have lacked consistency, have indeed been shown to have little connection with reality.

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