Despite being an Australian-born New Zealand citizen, I have a strong connection to the country. On my Mum's side of the family, majority of our family have been born and are living in New Zealand. This meant I was able to partake in numerous trips across the Tasman Sea to spend time with family. I find a inner connection to New Zealand that I am unable to explain, considering I have lived in Australia all my life. Proud is one word I would use. Proud of what such a small nation can do in this bad-ass world. It is the pride I have in my country that makes the news headlines from November 19, 2010 and the followings weeks so hard to swallow.
On this day, the Pike River Mine near Greymouth, on New Zealand's West Coast, was rocked by a powerful explosion which resulted in 29 miners being stuck inside the mine. The news spread across the world within hours. It was a tragic moment for New Zealand and the mining industry in the country. It was assumed there would be no survivors. Hope was being clung on to by families and friends though. After all, hope was all they and the rest of us praying for the safety of these miners could really hang on to. Dangerous conditions in the mine combined with a number of other setbacks slowed the recovery process considerably. Reports coming out early on Wednesday, November 24th stated that authorities believed there was a chance that there were survivors and everyones hopes began to lift. Unfortunately, as oft happens in life, things don't always go to plan. When a second explosion unexpectedly ripped through the mine that same day, everyones worst fears had instantly been confirmed. All the miners were dead, there would be no survivors. The tragedy ripped at the heart of the nation, and throughout the world as well.
If we learn anything from this, let it be that we are not here forever and that at any moment, your life or the life of a loved one may be taken away without notice. So don't wait for life to come to you. Be bold. Chase your dreams. Have no regrets. You've probably heard it all before, I know I have. Take a second though this time to actually take it all in. We only have one life so make the most of it.
Each of the brave miners had a life story. Wives, Children, Parents, Friends. A history of past events, good and bad, that made them who they were. One of the miner's was still only a child, having just turned 17 years of age the day before the mine collapsed. He died chasing his dreams in the mining industry, as he had always wanted to do.
I am dedicating this post and my efforts for the rest of this year to be a better person in respect for them. 24 New Zealanders, 2 Australians, 2 Britons and 1 South African. Let us work to make sure their deaths aren't in vain. May their souls Rest in Peace.