Fireworks fallout after shrapnel flies

20:16, Aug 24 2014
Person injured at Bledisloe Cup
OUCH: St John ambulance officer attends to a man injured by fireworks at the Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park.

The owner of a company behind a fireworks display that went horribly wrong at the All Blacks test will have to "modify" its plans for the next big game, in Napier.

Three spectators were treated for injuries after being showered with plastic shrapnel explosive material during a pyrotechnics display before Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup Test match in Auckland.

The two men and a woman were wounded when a container with pyrotechnic material unexpectedly exploded as the All Blacks finished the haka.

From left to right, Tony Spelman, Ruth Spelman, Zach Ready and Dan Cotterall were at Eden Park on Saturday. This photo was taken just moments before shrapnel from a firework flew past them, injuring people behind them.

"Due to a malfunction we got a bigger bang . . . than we expected. We did not expect this (explosion) to happen," Martin van Tiel of Waikato-based van Tiel Pyrotechnics said.

The two injured men were treated by ambulance staff and remained at the ground to view the All Blacks 51-20 victory.

The woman was treated for a head wound at Auckland Hospital and was released yesterday.


Zach Ready, from Wellington, was in the front row of Eden Park for the game.

''I saw something fly right past my head. It was super-close.''He swung around and saw the lady behind him was ''as surprised as me''.

At first they laughed, before realising another woman, four rows back, had been hit and was standing, up making her way to the aisle while one man was yelling to call an ambulance.

''She was just shocked. She didn't really scream or anything.''

The lady who got hit had something stuck to the side of her face, he said.

''She brought her hand up to her face. You saw her feel whatever it was stuck to her face and pull it off.

''Emergency services were soon on the scene.Ready's uncle, who was sitting beside him, had blood splattered on him, while blood was also splattered in the rows behind the woman who was hit.

''It probably looked a lot more than it was - particularly the woman clutching at her face. The whole dynamic, it was pretty disturbing.''He also noticed two other mean had been hit.

Photographer Ross Setford said there was blood streaming from the woman's head following the explosion when she was taken to a waiting ambulance.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said he was surprised at how loud the explosion was.

"I certainly noticed when it went off. All the computers in our room jumped.

"I'm sure the rugby union and everyone is working together to make sure it doesn't happen again. I'm sure that from now on . . . they'll be double cautious," Hansen said.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the incident was upsetting for everyone involved.

"Something has clearly gone wrong and we are urgently conducting a review of what happened.

"I can only apologise profusely to those who were injured. We will work with Eden Park and the appropriate authorities to investigate what happened," Tew said.

The pyrotechnic materials were imported from China and mixed at van Tiel's Taupiri plant.

"We apologise unreservedly to the injured people," van Tiel said.

An investigation had been launched involving WorkSafe, NZR and the Eden Park Trust Board.

Van Tiel's company had been contracted to ignite 12 large fireballs with pyrotechnic materials.

The company had experience with large events, including the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

"We've done at least 100 games over the past two decades and nothing like this has ever happened before. I'd like to get in touch with the spectators involved and apologise to them," van Tiel said.

His company was still proceeding with plans to put on the pyrotechnics display at the Argentina v All Blacks test at Napier on September 6, but was awaiting final instructions from Tew pending the outcome of the investigation.

"We will need to modify the display at Napier," van Tiel said.

The Dominion Post