16 Dec 2010

Money pledged to Pike River families safe, says trustee

3:37 pm on 16 December 2010

The founding trustee of the Pike River Miners Relief Fund says money given by the coal mining company is safe, and it will not go to the receivers.

Pike River Coal Ltd went into receivership on Monday following an explosion at the West Coast mine on 19 November which killed 29 workers and curtailed all production.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn had feared money pledged by the company would not get through to the families of the men who died.

However Mr Foley says the money is separate from that available to receivers.

"The money is held in an entirely separate trust account for the charitable trust and I can confirm I have in that account the $500,000 that was pledged by the Pike River Coal company," he said.

He told Morning Report the Fund also has a $500,000 pledge from New Zealand Oil and Gas, and another $500,000 in donations across the country.

The fund was to merge with the Pike River Miners Disaster Relief Fund, set up by the Grey District Council.

Mr Kokshoorn says he is reassured by the news about the money pledged by the company, and says the council's Pike River Miners Disaster Relief Fund, which stands at $4.5 million, has no problems either.

The receivers for Pike River Coal have been unable answer questions about the funds, but Mr Foley says that is because the money is not under their auspices.

Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the mine, says while no amount of money can make up for the loss, many young families are depending on what was promised to them.