A table for each of the 29 Pike River miners, topped with their helmets, will form the centre of [today’s] memorial for them.
The service will be held at Greymouth’s Omoto Racecourse on Thursday at 2pm, almost two weeks after the first explosion.
Archdeacon Robin Kingston said 29 specially-made tables would be stretched out before the grandstand, and each table would have a military guard. Miners’ hats would be placed on top of them.
Fifty thousand pieces of fern would be cut by Conservation Department staff for mourners to place on each of the tables.
Stones, to symbolise the leaving behind of grief would also be placed on the tables.
Up to 7000 people are expected at the memorial, which will be broadcast live.
Key speakers will be Prime Minister John Key, Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn, and Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall, who was the public face of the rescue operation.
Reverend Tim Mora, head of the Greymouth Ministers’ Association, will lead the service, which is expected to take an hour.
International representation has not yet been confirmed.
Archdeacon Kingston said it was time for the “pall of grief that has descended upon our community” to be lifted.
“We want to make sure we all grieve adequately.”
The 29 tables laid out side by side, would be a stark display of the scale of the disaster, he said.
“When you come and you see them all set up, a helmet on each, you’ll realise the enormity of the tragedy that has hit our community.”
There will be a grandstand seating 1000, filled with the families of the 29 men and other Pike River staff and their families.
Another grandstand would be brought in seating 1500, and organisers were trying to find another 500-seat grandstand.
The ferns are a carry-over from the Cave Creek disaster which claimed the lives of 14 outdoor recreation students from Tai Poutini polytech.
The koru symbolised tightly wound grief and the fern the fact that life went on and that pain eased over time, Archdeacon Kingston said.