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Pike River a cover-up: Peters

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/12/2016 Sean Martin
A flame burns from the end of a ventilation shaft of the Pike River coal mine near Greymouth on November 30, 2010. © REUTERS/The Press/Iain McGregor/Pool A flame burns from the end of a ventilation shaft of the Pike River coal mine near Greymouth on November 30, 2010.

Winston Peters says there's a cover-up over the 2010 Pike River mining disaster by those who could be held culpable if evidence is discovered upon re-entry.

The New Zealand First leaders has sided with the families of the 29 men who were killed in the West Coast coal mine in believing it's safe to re-enter the mine drift, despite mine operator Solid Energy maintaining methane is at deadly levels inside.

Mr Peters believes there is a cover-up "by the system itself" including the government, Solid Energy and the media.

"In this case here you've got all sorts of people who don't want to find out because if we find out this is a criminal scene we're required to examine the ... lack of depth in the investigation we put in place for Pike River," he told TV3's Paul Henry programme.

"This is how extreme these people are - trying to shut down ever finding out in the period where they can be held, while they're alive, culpable for actually seeing people ... murdered."

The families of the mine victims went to parliament on Tuesday to deliver a new re-entry plan by two international mining engineers and endorsed by three other overseas experts.

Winston Peters © Hannah Peters/Getty Images Winston Peters

They are more widely respected than Pacific MGM Mining and Gas Consultants in Australia who completed a report for Solid Energy, which is owned by the government, he said.

That report highlighted 600 risks that re-entry would pose.

"Me thinks they doth protest too much," Mr Peters later told RNZ.

"That's ridiculous. Six hundred objections when we've got international experts respected worldwide who say no, this matter can be managed in a way where safety will be a major achievement and it can be done."

Mr Peters trusts those experts so much so he volunteered to be the first to re-enter the mine in a move criticised by Prime Minister Bill English as trivialising the issue.

But Mr Peters, who worked in mines in Australia in the 1960s and 70s said he understands the risks and trusts the experts who say it's safe.

He says re-entry into the mine will be a bottom line issue for him in forming a coalition going into next year's election.

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