Waikato firm behind fireworks misfire

23:38, Aug 24 2014
Martin Van Tiel
Martin Van Tiel

A Waikato firm was responsible for a pyrotechnic misfire during the Bledisloe Cup test match at Eden Park on Saturday.

The All Blacks and Dr Martin Van Tiel, of Van Tiel Pyrotechnics, have apologised for a stray firework that left three spectators injured, one of whom was hospitalised.

He said he would have to "modify" plans for the next big game in Napier.

 Fireworks
EXPLOSIVE START: Fireworks timed to the conclusion of the All Blacks haka took some by surprise.

The fiery blast at Eden Park, right after the haka, left fans screaming and a few bloody.

"I met one of the people afterwards and we offer our sympathy to the people that did get hurt," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. The computers in his room "jumped off the table" after the explosion.

Van Tiel was the pyrotechnician in charge of the display on the night and said the company - based in rural Taupiri - was deeply sorry.

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"We are obviously very sorry that the incident occurred, especially for those spectators," he said.

"We don't want to hurt anyone - we're there to entertain."

The company, Worksafe NZ and the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) were investigating what exactly had gone wrong.

On Saturday, alarm bells started ringing with Van Tiel and his colleagues when the noise from the explosions was "substantially more than what the effect was designed to do".

"When the gear came off the field we saw quite quickly that something had gone a little bit wrong," he said.

His first reaction was to hope no-one had been hurt.

The company had been providing fireworks for 10 years at Eden Park and other All Black and rugby games throughout the country, he said.

This was the first case of injury.

"We are very knowledgeable in what we do. It's just things can happen in this industry, really.

"We're working with materials that do have powerful properties and harnessing those don't always go 100 per cent according to plan."

Van Tiel hopes to get contact details from those injured so he can apologise in person.

A spectator sitting in section 432 said he felt the shockwave.

"It was a massive explosion, quite deafening really," Mark J Thomson said.

The blast "left a massive mark on the field and the crew were frantically picking up debris before kickoff".

An Auckland Hospital spokeswoman said one person was treated after the accident and discharged.

Two other injured people were treated at the scene.

Worksafe New Zealand said the agency had been notified and would make inquiries this week.

Van Tiel was proceeding with plans to put on the pyrotechnics display at the Argentina vs All Blacks test at Napier on September 6 but was awaiting final instructions from Tew.

ibby.wilson@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

Waikato Times