Editorial: Fireworks go thataways, guys

00:36, Aug 27 2014

The pyrotechnic explosion that injured three people at the Eden Park Bledisloe test on Saturday will stand as a cautionary tale, rather than an infamous one. Pure luck, though.

The injury to Celia Wang, in particular, was serious enough to be distressing.

The WorkSafe New Zealand inquiry, and the mortified reaction of the company involved, Tiel Pyrotechnics, should minimise future risk.

If the company needs any reminder of how seriously cocked-up fireworks can go wrong, the unhappy answer can come from the early days of Invercargill's military triumphalism.

The city had hectored the Seddon Government for a troop ship returning from the Boer War to stop here, so the brave young men could be appropriately honoured. In truth, many of them were wounded or sick and just about all would have much preferred to hasten to their northern homes.

The ship arrived late after admiralty authorities deemed Bluff unsuitable, so the young veterans went to Port Chalmers and were sent back south on more accommodating vessels. They reached Invercargill by special train to find that the billeting arrangements had been lax and many had to spend a cold night on the streets. And to top it all, a night-time display at the corner of Dee and Tay streets (where, ironically, the Troopers' Memorial now stand so proudly) ended hideously when a joyously released signal rocket went horribly astray and struck an elderly woman, Nancy Littlewood Sneyd, right in the face, killing her.

Far less seriously, some folk on the Rugby Park terraces in 1996, when the introduction of Super Rugby was marked by streamers fired by little cannons, were pretty much retching under the horrid, pungent smoke that lingered afterwards.

One of these fans, wondering why the smoke was particularly strong around him, eventually noticed that a flaming streamer had landed on his shoe, which was now on fire.

Most of us do enjoy a flash piece of whizzbangery. That's fine, as long as we plan these events like the clear-eyed adults we're meant to be.


The Southland Times