Over the May Day weekend, I visited Blackball to help mark a new memorial to the 34 miners who have died on the West Coast since 1990, including the Pike River Miners. On the way to Blackball, I paid my respects to the 65 miners who were killed at Strongman mine in New Zealand’s worst mining accident, along with others killed in West Coast Mines.
There’s a local group called Mahi Tupuna, who have worked hard to keep the history of Blackball alive. They worked with the local community to erect the wheel memorial (discovered from a Roa Mine ropeway), which had the names of the 34 miners on it. It was another chance for the Pike River and other families to come together and remember their loved ones killed in the terrible toll of mining accidents on the West Coast.
There was also an exhibition called “Greymouth vs Ron Brierly – the demise of the clothing industry”, a political forum organised by Unions West Coast and a get together afterwards at the Workingman’s Club.
The sadness and grief, but also pride runs deep in this beautiful place. I’m grateful to those who work so hard to keep its history, past and present alive.
It’s a May Day weekend I won’t forget.