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Mine town 'feeling it in their guts': vicar -

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Mine town 'feeling it in their guts': vicar

Broadcast: 24/11/2010

Reporter: Tony Jones

Holy Trinity Anglican Church Vicar Marge Tefft tells Lateline that the entire community of
Greymouth is connected to the mine and feeling the tragedy in their guts.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: A short time ago I spoke to the vicar of Greymouth's Holy Trinity Anglican
Church, Marge Tefft, who earlier this evening held a service for the community.

Marge Tefft, thank you for joining us.

MARGE TEFFT, VICAR, HOLY TRINITY ANGLICAN CHURCH: Thank you, Tony.

TONY JONES: Now, Greymouth is small. We know this is very tight-knit community. Can you give us
some idea of what the people are going through tonight and particularly the relatives?

MARGE TEFFT: Well, you're right: it is a small and close-knit community, which means that everybody
knows somebody linked with this catastrophe and therefore we're all feeling it in the guts.

Obviously the families are feeling it worse than I would say probably those that work at Pike
River. They're just devastated as well, but there's a ripple effect; it's just affected everyone in
our community. And the news today just really gutted us all.

There was such a glimmer of hope this morning when the bore hole had gone through and the robots
were moving and the miner's lamp was found, and then to get the news this afternoon that there'd
been the second explosion and now no hope really has devastated us.

TONY JONES: You conducted a service tonight yourself. First of all, that must have been very
emotional and I'm wondering what the mood was and what you said to the people at the service?

MARGE TEFFT: Yes, this was a prayer vigil. We had scheduled them for every night this week for a
half hour, 7.30 to 8. The mood was one of deep sadness and grief, as you can imagine, and yet the
people had gathered to cling to each other and to look to God for help. And so in that sense, there
is hope.

Not so much the hope that the miners are coming out, but hope that we are going to get through
this, that God's going to be with us to see us through, that even though this tragedy is going to
mark this community forever, it is one that we are going to get through and hopefully be stronger
for in the end.

TONY JONES: Did it break the tension or did it make things worse to be told by someone that there
was no hope anymore?

MARGE TEFFT: What it did was it finally stopped the uncertainty, and so in that sense I think the
tension was broken. We now know the outcome, and for many, that's what they wanted: they wanted to
know what had happened. And there is a sense of finality because of the second explosion.

So in that regard, I guess you could say that the tension has been relieved because the uncertainty
has been resolved. However, the grief is now much deeper because now there is not the hope that
they will come out, and so the grief is very, very deep.

TONY JONES: It's being described as the region's darkest hour in its entire history and I'm
wondering how hard it will be for people to go down those mines again sometime in the future?

MARGE TEFFT: Yes, I'm sure that will be incredibly difficult. We've heard stories this week of folk
who had survived the Strongman mine disaster back in 1967, and if my memory is right in what I've
heard, the men who survived it had to go back down into mine the next day. Now, I'm not 100 per
cent sure on that, but that is something I believe I heard. And how hard it would have been for
them to go in to retrieve the bodies of their colleagues. And just what's going to happen at the
Pike River of course we do not know. That's for the Pike River management to inform you at an
appropriate time.

TONY JONES: We've seen anger, we've seen recriminations from some of the relatives and the friends
of the victims that the rescuers did not go in very early on. Are you seeing that and is there a
sort of breaking of tension now and anger in the community?

MARGE TEFFT: Yes, I did hear about that. At our service this evening, there was none of that. So, I
saw quite a different side and that was the deep grief and the looking to God for help and support
from one another. We did not see any of the anger expressed at the vigil tonight.

TONY JONES: How important will it be for the relatives and the friends for the bodies to be brought
up and to be laid to rest?

MARGE TEFFT: Well, obviously it brings a better sense of closure if the bodies can be recovered and
there can be funeral services. I do not know all that is going on for that right now. I can't
comment on what the plans are. But certainly I think folk have a keener sense of closure if a body
is able to be buried by the family, yes.

TONY JONES: Marge Tefft, we thank you very much for coming to join us on what's obviously a very
difficult night for the community, but also for you. Thanks for being there.

MARGE TEFFT: Thank you, Tony.