We have just sat and watched the televised Memorial Service for the Pike River Miners, held at the Omato Racecourse, Greymouth. A table for each of the 29 miners, topped with helmets, formed the centre of the memorial for the Pike River miners. Family members decorated each table with photos of their lost men, flowers, and items from their sports, hobbies, and interests. We noticed a surf board propped up against one table, and a couple of bottles of Tui beer on another.
The Memorial Service was very moving, with songs and a poem interspersed between the speeches and tributes. 29 men lost, husbands, partners, sons, brothers, friends and colleagues. 29 families still grieving, and still waiting to put their loved ones to rest. Although every effort is still being made to retrieve the bodies, it was acknowledged that perhaps the mine may well be their final resting place.
The Service concluded to the sound of a lone piper playing, and the dignitaries left the stage to place ferns on the the 29 tables. Fifty thousand pieces of fern were cut by Conservation Department staff for mourners to place on each of the tables. The ferns were a carry-over from the Cave Creek disaster, also in the West Coast, which claimed the lives of 14 outdoor recreation students in 1995. The koru symbolised tightly wound grief and the fern the fact that life went on and that pain eased over time.