Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Pause for Pike River

Pike River Mining Chief Executive Peter Whitall

It’s exactly a month until Christmas today. New Zealand is left numb after the news yesterday that 29 families are going to be left without husbands, fathers, brothers, son & partners in the wake of the Pike River mining disaster. It seems surreal sitting here in sunny Napier, I can’t imagine the level of grief & loss that must be felt by those families. I think all of us can be accused of being a little smug in the thought that after the success rescuing the Chilean miners & the horrific devastation of the Christchurch earthquake there was no loss of life. Sticks & stones can be mended, but I don’t know what any of us can do to mend the broken hearts which are breaking all over the West Coast right now.

In any disaster there are tragedies & often unlikely heroes. With the level of loss in Pike River it’s hard to imagine what heroes there are. Watching from afar I have been struck my two figures. First is Mine boss Peter Whittall. Here has been a man, who day after day, has remained a rock, a shining beacon for the families to look to during the duration of this disaster. His professionalism & composure is inspiring, his compassion endearing & each day etched on his face was a determination to 'do right by his mates'. After he broke the news yesterday to the nation that all hope had been lost for his men, he still managed to maintain his composure. I did not. When he was finished & he embraced his own family who had been by his side throughout & he walked out to well deserved applause, I shed tears for all those men lost.

Just as Peter Whittall has been the rock for the miners families, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn has been the same pillar of strength for his shattered community. Mayor Kokshoorns ability to succinctly convey the raw emotions of his constituents, whilst providing unfailing support & praise for the rescue effort, was a rare treasure. Not once did I see him slip into the spiral of blame. I truly felt he was speaking for the people of Grey District, if Tony Kokshoorn ever decided to trade local government for a central government role, he’d have my vote.

So back in sunny Napier the week that has unfolded has left me with a refreshed perspective to enter the festive season. Life is really too short. Enjoy, relax & pause.... Oh & knit through everything.

1 comment:

  1. Such a horrible tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these miners.