Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

14 May 2012

Let The Pike River 29 Rest

As usual, John Key is the target of criticism, this time because he had said that the Pike River men's bodies would be retrieved, but as time has gone by that possibility has become more remote. Mr Key is not a mining or rescue expert: he said those things because he, in hope as we all have been, had been advised by experts that they would happen. Now 'experts' are casting doubt. Let's not make John Key a target, he aches as much as any of us.

Foreseeing a long, long trail of despair, I wrote to John Key on 20 January 2011 the following:

'Those families must be having a hell of a time groping for
what the psychologists call 'closure'. They really need somebody to put an
end to speculation about what to do about the lost men.

'When warships are sunk and men go to their graves in the sea those ships are
designated official war graves. Everybody knows that nothing can be done
about the victims and so their fates are sealed by that formal designation.
What if the Pike River galleries where those men died - instantaneously we
believe - were declared a sealed grave or urupa, the formality achieved by a
service of consecration conducted by a group of priests, kaumatua, rabbis,
RCs and Anglicans - whichever most appropriately represent the spiritual
persuasions of the lost ones, their families and the nation? 

'That solemn occasion would probably put at rest the minds of the loved ones
and all New Zealanders and draw the sad affair to the best possible
conclusion. Those galleries could be sealed and sacrosanct and their
existence recorded on a memorial such as that of the Brunner disaster; the
names listed as upon a war memorial. Even if the mine were re-opened the
entombment would be tapu.

'I believe we could all live with such a solution.'

Now more than ever seems it rich to put an end to that trail of despair. To seal the tomb, to give it dignity. I wonder who will be bold enough among the dead men's families to say 'let there be an end'?

© DON DONOVAN (Photograph ex Google images. TV3)

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By Don Donovan