'Privileged': Queenstown muso Noel Coutts


A veteran Queenstown muso’s lending his voice to today’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Pike River Mine explosion that killed 29 workers.

Singer-songwriter Noel Coutts is performing his song, 29 Ghosts, at Parliament, in Wellington, before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, other dignitaries and 35 family members of six of the deceased men.

The 72-year-old wrote the song a few years ago at the prompting of his good mate, Rick ‘Rowdy’ Durbridge, who lost a son, Daniel Herk, in the West Coast disaster.

Coutts befriended Durbridge before then, when he was living in a classic old boat in Wellington’s Chaffers Marina.

‘‘‘Rowdy’ had a boat there that had run aground or something and he was getting it sorted out.

‘‘Then whenever I played on the Coast he’d come to my gig.’’

The idea for the song came when they were chatting about the tragedy over ‘‘tears and beers’’.

‘‘It tells the story, I suppose,’’ Coutts says.

Durbridge, who’s called it ‘‘the official song’’ of Pike River, made a recording of it when down in Queenstown that’s been played the odd time, including at another ceremony the PM attended.

‘‘I didn’t put it out because I didn’t want to be sort of cashing in on other people’s grief.’’

Now semi-retired, he calls it a privilege to have been asked to perform at today’s commemorative service.