Pike River Mine Inquiry

For background to the Pike River Coal Mine disaster, enter the word “coal” in the search box.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the disaster at the Pike River Mine started this week. Twenty-nine miners died in the explosion at the mine. The Inquiry is headed by a judge. It is like a court.

The Inquiry will have four parts. From July 11th to 22nd, the focus is on the background or the context. How was the Pike River Mine built? Why was it built this way? How did it operate?

The next part will focus on the Search and Rescue. This will be held in September. Part three is: What happened that day? Part 4 is: What lessons can be learned for the future. There is no date yet for parts 3 and 4 but they will be later this year.

So far this week, the Inquiry has heard some negative things about the mine. A geologist said she was not happy with the geological work that was done before the mine was built. Two other witnesses talked about problems of safety in the mine.

The families of the dead miners are finding this information very upsetting.


A Royal Commission of Inquiry means that this is most important kind of inquiry. It has a judge at the head, and lawyers to ask the witnesses questions.
“head” is usually a noun but can be used as a verb. To head an organization is to be the head, or to be in charge.
“context” – the general situation e.g. the background, where it was situated, the kind of mine, who worked there, how it operated.
“witness” – a person who give evidence in a court. A witness tells what he or she knows about the case.
“upsetting” – this is a very common word in speaking. If someone is upset, he or she may feel like crying.

Note the stress on the second syllable of the noun “geologist” and the third syllable of adjective “geological”. In English, this kind of stress shift is very common.

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