Auckland Council votes to ask govt to ban fireworks sales

5:27 pm on 28 February 2019

Auckland Council will be lobbying the government to stop the sale of private fireworks.

A small firework is set off on a street.

A small firework is set off on a street. Photo: 123rf

A public consultation last year showed that 90 percent of nearly 8000 submissions were in favour of the ban and today councillors voted to put that request to the government.

Mayor Phil Goff and other councillors expressed nostalgia about the Kiwi culture where families gathered together to enjoy fireworks.

But they agreed that with intensification of housing, and harm to people and animals, the risks outweighed the benefits.

They said too many people have abused the right to use fireworks privately.

The council does not have the power to ban fireworks itself, so needs to ask the government to change legislation.

Mr Goff said the next step now would be to form a plan on how to push the government to act.

"We need a little bit of strategic and tactical thinking about how best to advance the resolution, it may be simply sending two councillors down but it may be that we want to give a little bit more thought to what are the different channels by which we might influence that outcome."

Mr Goff said another option would be to rally support from MPs to create a member's bill.

The councillors said they were prepared to go to parliament themselves to be heard.

"There is a mood for change," said Councillor Cathy Casey.

"What this submission process has brought back to the fore is that people do want to see the government step in and ban the private sale of fireworks."

Ms Casey said the government received a petition with 32,000 signatures to stop private fireworks in 2015.

She said instead of issuing a blanket ban, the government of the time reduced the hours that fireworks could be sold in and stopped selling rockets.

Ms Casey became passionate when she pointed out that majority of Australian states had already stopped fireworks.

"Why is New Zealand so permissive?" she said.

"Why is it every time we say we'd like something to change we're accused of being 'nanny state' when actually what we want to do is reduce harm?"

Councillor John Watson said while he did support the ban, he felt some nostalgic sadness.

"We're talking about the ... Kiwi culture where families were out in the backyard and everything was safe," he said.

"It was their responsibility and kids looked forward to it and it was kind of part of our culture so it is a little sad to see that."

Councillor Christine Fletcher agreed and said her family would not take her decision well.

"I know that I'm going to alienate my children and my grandchildren," she said.

"They will see this as a huge bit of nanny state and an incursion into the activities they consider really important and fun."

"But at some point we have to exercise our judgment about what is right for our community and what is wrong."

Last year Fire and Emergency received more than 100 firework-related calls on Guy Fawkes day, the highest number since 2012.

At the time, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the government was not actively reviewing fireworks rules.

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