Former Air NZ chief executive appointed to oversee Pike River re-entry

Rob Fyfe
Rob Fyfe
Former New Zealand's former chief executive Rob Fyfe has been appointed an independent adviser to oversee the processes of Pike River Recovery Agency, by Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, Andrew Little.

The Pike River Recovery Agency will be formally established by January 31 with the objective of making a decision for the manned re-entry of the Pike River Mine drift, following an explosion on November 19, 2010, which killed 29 miners whose bodies have not been recovered.

Until Labour's election win, the Pike families had fought every step of the way during the past seven years to convince the then government to enter the sealed mine.

In November the Supreme Court ruled a $3.4million deal which allowed Pike's mine manager Peter Whittall to escape charges by WorkSafe was an unlawful bargain, but an order to require the prosecution to proceed was no longer an option due to the passage of time, the court said.

While the Labour-NZ First coalition has committed to entering Pike River, Mr Little has said in recent weeks that while reports showed a manned entry was possible, he could not guarantee a manned re-entry would go ahead.

Mr Little said yesterday the members of the Pike River Families Reference Group had expressed their support for the independent adviser role and Mr Fyfe's appointment.

Mr Fyfe is also chairman of New Zealand clothing company Icebreaker.

Mr Little cited several reasons for Mr Fyfe's appointment, including his ability to advise on safety-sensitive activities and workplace environments needing best practice risk assessment and management.

He also had experience dealing with an air crash in France and Air New Zealand's early involvement with families of the Pike victims at the time of the mining disaster.

Mr Little said as an independent adviser Mr Fyfe would provide him with impartial advice on plans for the re-entry of the Pike River drift, to ensure the ``thoroughness of the information'' he would be getting from the Pike River Recovery Agency.

``The role provides another safeguard for the families and the public,'' Mr Little said.


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