Monk goes inside mine that claimed his son

Bernie Monk (right) with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor....
Bernie Monk (right) with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor. Photo: NZ Herald
Bernie Monk has ventured into the mine where his son Michael was killed to show New Zealand it's safe to try to recover his body and those of the 28 other Pike River victims.

The men were killed after methane exploded in the West Coast mine in November 2010, where their bodies remain entombed despite their families' repeated pleas to retrieve them.

Four months ago, the Pike River Agency allowed several family members, including Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse, into the drift.

Last week, it was Monk's turn to go 30 metres into the mine with a recovery team.

Monk said he was bitter the bodies had not yet been recovered and being in the drift made him want to tear the wall down and do the job himself.

However, he said skilled people would start doing that by the end of this year.

Monk said the families had been fighting for eight years to enter the mine.

A methane explosion closed the mine in November 2010. Photo: Greymouth Star
A methane explosion closed the mine in November 2010. Photo: Greymouth Star
Monk was accompanied inside last Thursday by Newshub journalist Patrick Gower, who said today that it was "an incredibly emotional moment to be there".

Monk had touched and gripped the wall at the entrance to the portal.

"For me personally it was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen to see a father who has fought so hard to be so close to his son," Gower told The AM Show.

Pike River Minister Andrew Little is leading the body recovery plans.

Technical experts have consulted on the prospect of re-entering the drift at the Pike River Mine and agreed although it was very complex, it was still feasible, he has said.

"Once you get into the detail, it is more challenging than they had thought," Little said in July.

"We now have a concept plan. Before I sign off on that I want to engage with the families on it and see if they are happy with it."

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