Judgement for $3M payout to Pike River families

PIKE River Coal has been ordered to pay almost $A3 million in compensation for the 29 men killed in New Zealand’s Pike River coal mine explosions in 2010.
Judgement for $3M payout to Pike River families Judgement for $3M payout to Pike River families Judgement for $3M payout to Pike River families Judgement for $3M payout to Pike River families Judgement for $3M payout to Pike River families


Staff Reporter

In the Greymouth District Court today, Judge Jane Farish awarded $NZ110,000 ($A94,143) to each of the 29 victims’ families and as reparation to the two survivors.

The company was also fined $NZ760,000.

However, the order of compensation may be sentiment only as the Greymouth Star reported that the embattled company’s receiver revealed PRC only had enough money to pay $5000 to each family – a total of $155,000.

The company has been in receivership since 2010.

Farish found PRC guilty on all nine health and safety charges laid by the former Department of Labour.

In her final judgement in May Farish said the breaches were "causative of the explosion and the subsequent deaths of the men who perished".

Over two days of sentencing, Farish heard what she has called “harrowing” impact statements from relatives of the Pike River disaster victims.

More than 20 emotional statements were read from the people who lost family members in the series of November 2010 explosions.

Kath Monk lost her son, Michael, in the tragedy. Reading her victim impact statement in court on Thursday, she told of how disgusted she was that she had never received an apology from the company.

“This has been called an accident, however, the definition of an accident is an unforeseen event or one without apparent cause but in our eyes, this was not the case,” she said.

“It is really hurtful and insulting that no one has admitted their responsibility and it makes us feel that there is such little value placed on the lives of the 29 men.”

Kath Monk’s husband Bernie has been the spokesman for the families since the accident. ILN spoke to Bernie Monk in May following Farish’s judgement.

At the time, he thanked Farish for giving the families the opportunity to speak at the sentencing.

“The one thing that we are going to get out of it is the families are going to finally be able to [give statements],” he told ILN.

“Some of us were lucky enough to speak at the royal commission hearing but not all the families had that opportunity, so it is now time for them to provide those statements [at the sentencing] because Judge Farish has in her wisdom allowed that to happen.”

A trial date for former PRC chief executive officer Peter Whittall has yet to be set but to date he has denied all 12 charges laid against him under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

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