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John Key: 'We are a nation in mourning'

Published: 6:42PM Wednesday November 24, 2010 Source: ONE News

John Key's full speech on the Pike River tragedy, delivered at the Beehive this evening:

"This afternoon New Zealand has been devastated by the news we have all been dreading.

A second explosion at the Pike River Mine confirms our very worst fears.

The 29 men whose names and faces we have all come to know, will never walk amongst us again.

This is a national tragedy.

A tragedy for the men's families, their workmates and friends, their community and our nation.

New Zealand is a small country. A country where we are our all our brother's keeper.

So to lose this many brothers at once strikes an agonising blow. Today, all New Zealanders grieve for these men.

We are a nation in mourning.

Where this morning we held on to hope, we must now make way for sorrow.

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of those 29 brave men.

After days of waiting, of both preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, they have been delivered the cruellest of news.

So to all those who have lost a loved one in the Pike River mine let me say: New Zealand stands shoulder to shoulder with you. Though we can not possibly feel this pain as you do, we have you in our hearts and our thoughts.

Like you, we all longed for that miracle to occur, that your men would be returned to you.

Tonight, on behalf of the people of New Zealand, we send our sympathies to the children who have lost their fathers, the parents who have lost sons, the wives who have lost their husbands, the girlfriends who have lost their partners, the siblings who have lost their brothers.

This is a tragedy for the communities of Greymouth and its surrounding area.

This loss will be felt in every home. They leave behind them a hollow space, that will not be readily filled.

We must also acknowledge that Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom have lost men in this tragedy as well.

Tomorrow, I will travel to Greymouth to express my condolences to the families and to express our thanks to all those who have worked so hard on the attempted rescue of these men.
From the moment of the first explosion, they have spent every waking hour tirelessly working, searching for a way to bring these men home alive. That was not to be. Their enormous effort can not go unmarked.

In Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English will move a motion in my absence, providing all political parties an opportunity to express their sympathy. Then as a mark of respect to the victims and their families it is the Government's intention to lift the House.

I have also directed that tomorrow all flags on Government buildings will fly at half-mast.

Questions must now be asked and answered about how such a tragedy was able to occur and how we can prevent another happening in the future.

It is my expectation that Cabinet will confirm the details of a Commission of Inquiry at its next meeting on Monday, along with any other inquiries that may be deemed appropriate.
At this time of national pain, let us not lose sight of what truly makes New Zealand great.

We are a tough and resilient country. We care deeply for our fellow countrymen and women. We are a series of communities knitted together by a set of values and principles that have guided us together through good times and bad.

It is this spirit that will see us through."

Labour leader offers his condolences:

Labour Leader Phil Goff has expressed his heartfelt sympathy for the families of the miners after news of a second massive explosion at Pike River Mine.

"This is a devastating shock for the families and the entire community. I want to extend my support and sympathy to those caught up in this terrible tragedy.

"We know that Coasters are brave and resilient and will band together as they work through this terrible time. But the community should know that the entire country will be mourning alongside them."

Goff spoke at a press conference today.

"In terms of an inquiry it's too early for people to be pointing fingers or attributing blame. We want to be there with the families, we want to support them, we want to see them move on from where they are at the moment but sooner rather than later, there are questions that need to be asked and they are the obvious questions.

"What happened? Why did that happen? Could it have been forseen or prevented? and perhaps most importantly at this stage, what is it that we can do to prevent a tragedy of this nature happening again?

"That means an independent inquiry, a high level inquiry. It means all of the questions and the hard questions need to be asked and I believe that inquiry will come soon enough," he said.

Share your messages of condolence to the friends and families of the men lost in the Pike River Mine on our messageboard below.

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  • tit4tat said on 2010-12-03 @ 18:25 NZDT: Report abusive post

    condolences to the families, concern about the industry that allowed these men to work in unsafe conditions, mines are dangerous thats true but none can put their hands on their hearts and claim they have gone above and beyond what is lawfully required of them to ensure their "mates" safety. Glenn Grindly could lead the way by ensuring his mine workers and his local community are 110% protected people b4 profit yeah right!!!

  • tropicalkiwi said on 2010-12-02 @ 23:35 NZDT: Report abusive post

    To the families of the miners, my condolences. My thoughts have been with over the last 13 days, I have shed tears for your loss and hope that the support you have been shown in some small way helps. You will remain in my thoughts.

  • james q said on 2010-12-02 @ 17:17 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Tragedy has brought Australia & New Zealand together yet again. My thought are with the West Coasters in NZ from the west coast of Australia.

  • wellthatsafinemess said on 2010-12-02 @ 13:50 NZDT: Report abusive post

    when your here your here when your gone your gone there is nothing to be said there is nothing can be done and when the bell tolls your on the final run to your maker you may fly upon wings of mercy sigh forever you will be in our hearts & our minds eye Rest in Peace Gentlemen.

  • turret said on 2010-12-02 @ 13:27 NZDT: Report abusive post

    to hear your voice,to see you smile to sit and talk to you a while to be together the same old way that would be our greatest wish wish hear you laugh,to hear you cry on just a chance,to say goodbye to say the things we didn't say that would be our greatest wish today But all we can dois throw flowers on the water look fo the sun through the rain Lay a little flower gentle on the water Remember how we loved you to comb you hair,to lace your boots buy some beer ,let you choose .