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New Zealand Remembers 125 Years Since Brunner Mine Disaster

Media release: 24 March 2021

The 125th anniversary of the Brunner Mine Disaster, New Zealand’s worst industrial accident, will be acknowledged this Friday announced Tamsin Evans, Deputy Chief Executive Delivery at Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage today.

"The explosion at the Brunner Mine on the morning of 26 March 1896 resulted in the loss of 65 lives in the close-knit West Coast mining community.

"With almost half the entire mine’s workforce killed, the event represented not only an immense loss to the community, but a truly devastating tragedy for the victims’ families, including 39 widows and 192 children, who suddenly found themselves without their husbands, fathers and sons.

"In response to the disaster, the country came together through national fundraising efforts to help provide financial relief for those families. Significantly, the disaster led to new laws being introduced to improve access to compensation for workers or families affected by workplace accidents.

Image of Brunner published on the NZHistory website.

"Remembering events like the Brunner Mine Disaster increases our awareness of moments in our collective history which have shaped modern New Zealand.

"The legacy of the disaster is such that today the Brunner Mine site is cared for by the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai, and is part of Tohu Whenua, a visitor programme that connects places rich in historical or cultural significance," said Tamsin Evans.

A service to commemorate the disaster is being organised by Grey District Council and will take place at 9.20am on Friday 26 March 2021 at the Brunner Memorial site (Taylorville side) near Greymouth. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Additional information

The Tohu Whenua programme is a partnership between Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai, and Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, with support from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Hīkina Whakatutuki and Te Puni Kōkiri Ministry of Māori Development.

Information about the service to commemorate those who lost their lives is available on the Grey District Council website: 125th Commemoration of The Brunner Mine Disaster

More information about the Brunner Mine Disaster is available online at: 
Brunner mine disaster kills 65 | NZHistory, New Zealand history online
Brunner mine disaster, 1896 – Coal and coal mining – Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand 

Information is also available on the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai website  and the Tohu Whenua website.

Updated on 8th October 2021