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50,000 Fern Pieces For Thursday's National Remembrance

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

by Amelia Langford of NZPA

Greymouth, Nov 27 NZPA - A Greymouth archdeacon has asked the Department of Conservation (DOC) to provide 50,000 "pieces of fern" for Thursday's national remembrance service in Greymouth -- a tribute to the 29 men who died in the Pike River Coal mine.

"I phoned DOC...and within half an hour they said 'we'll do it for you'," Robin Kingston said during a service at Greymouth's Holy Trinity Anglican Church this evening.

About 50 people attended the service, which was adapted to pay special tribute to the 29 men.

"The ferns are a reminder that life continues. The green reminds me that there's hope -- hope that my faith will stay strong throughout this period," he told the congregation.

The church also organised 29 tables for Thursday's service, which would display the names of the men, he said.

"What did strike me was how big a space I need for 29 tables...It made me realise how many people 29 is -- it's enormous," he said.

The tragedy had not shaken his faith in God, he said.

"He (God) did not cause the tragedy...He allowed people to mine with the knowledge they had," he said.

He said mining would always carry a degree of risk and that was the nature of the job.

Mr Kingston said he had accompanied the families to visit the mine site earlier today.

"I was up there at the mine this afternoon, with the families of the miners, telling them about (Thursday's) service... and somebody said 'what do we do if it rains?'...we carry on regardless," he said.

He expected about 7000 people to attend the service.

This evening, he urged the church members not to let their grief make them "hard like a stone" and said the current "darkness and despair" would not go on forever.

He said he was grateful for his tears because without them he would not know how to process his grief.

A Pike River Coal staff member and congregation member, Marlene Trounson, led a prayer for the men and their families at this evening's service.

"As we think of the men who were special to us...we pray that they did not suffer and that they are all at peace with (God) and have no pain."

She prayed that the mens' bodies would be returned to the families so they could have closure and celebrate the mens' lives.

"If we did not have time to say goodbye...take this time, in silence, to say in our hearts anything we wanted to say to them...

"Time heals but the scars are always there. Let these scars be bearable."

The national service will be held at Greymouth's Omoto racecourse on December 2.

NZPA al hgw

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