Key speech at Pike River memorial service

Thanks to the media for tweeting the speech – was nice to be able to follow it despite no TV access.

The full speech is here. I found it very moving, as I did the other speeches also. A couple of extracts that stick with me:

But, as the hours passed, we had to start thinking the unthinkable. These 29 strong, fit, men, who were all sons, and who were also fathers, husbands, and brothers, were not going to walk out of that mine.

And so we prayed that when death came to them, as it will come to all of us, they did not suffer.


And I’d like to say something personal to the families of the lost miners, and in particular to those mothers of children who have so cruelly lost their fathers.

Amongst all your other emotions and pain there may be fear for your children growing up without the father who loved them.

Because I was such a child, I know that the absence of a parent is a heaviness you learn to carry in your own way.

It is a terrible thing to happen. But it doesn’t mean your children will not go on to live happy, worthwhile and fulfilling lives and, in time, experience joyfulness and love in new families, yet to be created.


In the streets of Greymouth, and all along the Coast, the intensity of this loss has weighed heavily on every heart.

But the human spirit is resilient, and people are by nature, hopeful.

I hope the knowledge of the nation’s support helps you through.

Your men were our men. And even if many of us know them only as names, and faces and stories, their deaths touched our lives, and we will remember them.

May they rest in peace.

And may us never forget them.

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