24 Dec 2022

Residents furious over millionaire's massive fireworks display

4:18 pm on 24 December 2022
No caption.

Photo: 123RF

Rural Queenstown residents are concerned about the effect of a massive private New Year's fireworks display on their animals.

Neighbour John Quinn said more than 50 locals are up in arms, and nearly 400 people have signed an online petition against the 14-minute commercial-grade display, planned by the owners of a property on Littles Road in Dalefield.

The first neighbours knew of the display was a public notice in a local newspaper.

The millionaire planning the large display on New Year's Eve said he will consider financially assisting his Queenstown neighbours to move their livestock.

Locals are concerned the show will cause their horses to panic and injure themselves, or the public.

Quinn's family is planning to move their four horses 50 kilometres down the road to Cromwell for the night.

"It's a whole lot of stress that people don't need.

"We've heard of neighbours who are cancelling holidays and staying home or organising vets on standby.

"There's only one main vet on standby in the region here, so he or she is gonna be busy."

The Dalefield property's owner, American millionaire Tony Malkin, said alerting the neighbours to his plans was a courtesy beyond any requirement.

In a statement, the property owners said they were sorry for any inconvenience and had "deep and long-lived social and charitable connections" in the area.

Malkin, whose family has owned the property for nearly 20 years, said the family will consider requests from immediate neighbours for financial assistance to move their livestock to safety.

Quinn said there is little chance of stopping the show, but he hopes the rules can be changed so it doesn't happen again.

"The initial feeling when we experience an earthquake, that kind of fight or flight experience we feel, animals feel that the entire time that it's going on.

"In some cases, with the horses, we've seen them go into shock, and shock's an ugly thing with a horse."

Quinn said scared horses pose a risk to themselves and the public, bolting through fences, injuring themselves and becoming a hazard on roads.

A Morrinsville horse owner had to put her animal down in November after it suffered serious injuries while trying to escape backyard fireworks.

SPCA doctor Alison Vaughan said then that relying on voluntary reports of animal deaths or injuries to SPCA would be "likely to dramatically underestimate the true scale of the issue".

"Veterinary practices within New Zealand do not operate a centralised database for firework injuries."

However, if animals were deliberately harmed by fireworks, it should be reported to the SPCA so it could be investigated, she said.

"SPCA feels deeply for the animals and people harmed by fireworks and is committed to continue to advocate for an end to the private sale and use of fireworks at every opportunity, for as long as this practice continues."

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