By Annabelle Tukia
Around 150 family and friends of the Pike River victims have marked the second anniversary of the explosion with a private ceremony at the entrance to the mine.
Relatives came from as far away as Scotland and South Africa for the occasion, but there's still no word on when or if an effort will be made to retrieve the bodies of the men.
One by one, the buses carrying family members and friends of the 29 men passed through the gates up to the Pike River mine.
Shrouded in cloud and high up in the Paparoa mountain range, they held a private service just metres from the mine’s portal.
Two years on, and all 29 men remain entombed within the mine – their tags still hang on a board near the entrance as a poignant reminder of miners that went to work that day but never made it home. Families spokesman Bernie Monk’s son Michael is one of them.
In March this year, the mine was bought by Solid Energy. Mark Pizey has been in charge of the site for three months. He says there was no question the families needed to visit the site today.
“We try to keep them abreast of the developments that we’re proposing and undertaking and let them know any feedback on any questions they may have about the mine,” says Mr Pizey.
“It's been two years but it's raw,” says Greymouth mayor Tony Kokshoorn. “We remember it just like it was yesterday, and so it’s important that the community comes together for this and supports each other.”
Earlier in the day the families shared a lunch together. Tonight they'll share their grief with the community at a public service at Blackball.