4 Mar 2011

Pike River families don't want police to pull out

10:05 pm on 4 March 2011

The families of the men killed in the Pike River coalmine last year say they do not want police to ever hand over control to the mine company's receivers.

Police have confirmed they have not yet given up control of the mine, despite announcing almost two months ago that they were ending their operation to recover the men's remains.

The final handover is now expected to take place next week.

A spokesperson for the families, Bernie Monk, says he wishes police would stay involved.

Radio New Zealand understands the families are concerned that the receivers could choose to seal up the part of the mine where the bodies are, while reopening another part for mining.

The families' lead lawyer, Colin Smith, says the police presence gives the families comfort because of their focus on recovery and collecting evidence on what caused the explosions that killed the men.

John Fisk of the receivers, PricewaterhouseCoopers, says that while police are still responsible for the site, the work that had been outlined under the mine stabilisation plan has continued.

Mr Fisk says a meeting of government ministers and other stakeholders is scheduled on Monday and the handover should be signed off by the end of next week.