Farmer wants Hāwera community fireworks display banned

The future of a popular fireworks night in South Taranaki is in the hands of an independent commissioner.
SHANNON BEYNON

The future of a popular fireworks night in South Taranaki is in the hands of an independent commissioner.

A Guy Fawkes' display which may have caused a herd of calves to panic and injure themselves is under threat after being judged to have been too loud.

The annual Fireworks Spectacular in Hāwera is the only dedicated public display in Taranaki and normally attracts crowds of between 3000 and 3500.

At a meeting of the South Taranaki District Council on Monday Matapū farmer Irene Cruikshank, who manages a calf rearing farm with 800 calves, read a letter of complaint she wrote following the event in 2015.

The noise of the fireworks had so startled her calves, they stampeded through fences in panic, injuring some and killing one, she said.

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She had heard anecdotally of other animals that had been injured or died, including one that ran into a timber fence, breaking its jaw.

Calves were spooked so badly by the fireworks that they stampeded through a fence.
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Calves were spooked so badly by the fireworks that they stampeded through a fence.

"The next day we worked from 5am to 4pm to sort out the calves, feed them and fix the fences and bent gates."

"In the days that followed, they were spooked by birds, the slightest thing would turn the mob back and running towards the drover. It's an animal welfare issue and a definite health and safety issue, and this is ongoing," she said.

The fireworks display has been put on hold this year because last year the fireworks noise exceeded the South Taranaki District Council's own rules, meaning the council needed a resource consent to hold the event, community services manager Fiona Greenhill said.

"The council has to abide by the rules just like everyone else, which is why we are applying for a resource consent."  

The council had hired an independent consultant to process the resource consent, which would be decided by an independent commissioner.

"This is to avoid any ​perceptions of bias, because the council is both the applicant and the consenting authority."  

So far, 10 people had submitted in support of the fireworks and two against. Submissions close on Wednesday, she said.

A hearing would be held between November 20 and December 1, thus making it unlikely this year's event could be held.

Over the nine years the event had been held, the council had received two written complaints from Cruikshank about the noise and about six phone calls from other people, she said.

Mayor Ross Dunlop, also a dairy farmer, said he took the precaution of putting calves into a very safe paddock when fireworks were going off.

He advised Cruikshank to put her concerns into a submission for the hearing.

"We understand that the 15-minute fireworks display can be distressing for animals which is why we try to manage this by giving urban and rural residents lots of advance notice," Greenhill said.

Taranaki has no other public fireworks displays for Guy Fawkes, although the crowd at Stratford Speedway will be treated to a display after the November 4 meeting.

 A lack of funding saw the end of New Plymouth's annual display in 2011, although businessman Allen Juffermans rallied support for one show in 2015 which has not been repeated.

 

 - Stuff

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