Has it been a year already since the Pike River Mine disaster? Indeed it has, and it has been a year of tumult for the good folk of the West Coast.
We remember vividly where we were when we heard the news; we were visiting Christchurch, and the telly had just been turned on for the 6pm news. The initial response was not one of alarm, because only days before, the Chilean miners had been rescued. Little did any of us know.
As the hours, then days unfolded, the prognosis got progressively worse until the second explosion on the Wednesday afternoon, and the confirmation that there would be no Chilean miracle. We cannot even begin to imagine how traumatic that moment must have been for the families, and for those who had to bring them the grim, tragic news.
Something went dreadfully wrong at Pike River. It's not our place to speculate on what that was; the Royal Commission is still hearing evidence, and there are prosecutions before the Court; laid in haste by the Labour Department because of the Statute of Limitations. It is there, and rightly so, that blame can be apportioned.
Today we pause to remember the men who perished. And we send to their families, their friends and their surviving colleagues our thoughts, our prayers and our aroha. We listened to an emotional interview with Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn yesterday on RadioLive, and he concluded with comments that the community had come together in its grief, and that it would go forward together.
The Pike River community is not alone today. New Zealand comes together with you to share this first painful anniversary.
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui; arohanui.