Police wish to thank the overseas teams who have helped in the efforts to stabilise the Pike River mine since November 19.
Superintendent Dave Cliff says he particularly wants to highlight the work done by the Australian operators of the GAG machine:
"These guys have done an outstanding job in very difficult circumstances.
"They have remained positive, optimistic and motivated. They have got on with the job and kept the GAG machine running almost none-stop for a month in a challenging environment which it has never been operated in before.
"5 of the Australians will also give up their Christmas to keep the GAG operating throughout the holiday period. Their dedication and professionalism is to be commended and New Zealand Police is very grateful for their effort.
"I would also like to thank all those other international partners who have given us advice and assistance.
"This includes the Australian Defence Force and the many experts in Australia, the US and Europe we have worked with. It has been invaluable to have had a global network of expertise to call upon and advise us on dealing with this difficult event.
"We have also received invaluable support from the New Zealand Defence Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force whose staff have worked closely with the Police team to provide logistical, technical and operational support.
"I also wish to recognise the commitment of Department of Conservation staff who will be giving up their holiday break to assist during the festive period.
"DOC staff have worked closely with us during the recovery operation and 6 of them will work around the clock during the holiday break to continue gas monitoring. A further 2 DOC staff will assist the Police command team at the mine.
"Finally I would like to thank the families of the 29 men for their support, dignity and understanding during the recovery. All those involved in the operation are acutely aware that these families are facing their first Christmas without their loved one.
"Police liaison teams continue to work with the families and we will be facilitating a visit for them to the mine on Christmas day.
"Our thoughts are with them and we hope that they can take some comfort from the knowledge that a committed, motivated team from New Zealand and Australia will keep working 24/7 at the mine throughout the holiday period.
Contact: Grant Ogilvie, PNHQ media team, 04 474 9476
Editors note: Police media calls regarding Pike River mine will be handled by the PNHQ media team until January 5th.
From 25th December contact the on call media person via the after-hours pager: 026 101 082