Farmer seeks fireworks ban after animal anguish

By Joseph Aldridge

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An Apata farmer would like to see fireworks totally banned following another year of Guy Fawkes "hooliganism".

Gary Haakma said his animals panic when the fireworks start going off.

"They run around and bang into fences in all directions. I have a 100kg ram who just took a flying leap at a fence and burst through a good solid fence out of panic."

Several years ago, a pedigree cow belonging to Mr Haakma got scared by fireworks and ran blindly into a forked punga tree where it got caught by its head and died.

"The following year, once again on Guy Fawkes night, I had some sheep that burst through a fence and popped all the staples out and there was six of them found dead in the creek, drowned, the following morning.

"I don't think people realise the damage they do to the animals."

Mr Haakma said he would like to see a total ban on the public sale of fireworks.

"To me it's just hooliganism, it's no different to doing graffiti or wheelies. There's no reason for it."

Fire crews throughout the Western Bay were kept busy on Monday night putting out deliberately-lit and accidental fires caused by fireworks.

Crews from Greerton, Omokoroa, Maketu, Mount Maunganui, Waihi and Papamoa were called to eight fires, the majority caused by fireworks.

Maketu Volunteer Fire Brigade crew spent more than two hours battling a large shelterbelt blaze on State Highway 33 in Paengaroa.

The fire, which took hold just after 8.30pm, measured about 70m long, said fire chief Shane Beech.

"The shelterbelt caught fire because of fireworks and it was a pretty major one," he said.

"It took the guys about two and a half hours to put it out."

A fire truck from Maketu and Te Puke, as well as a tanker from Te Puke were required to put out the blaze.

Mr Beech said the shelterbelt had "accidentally" caught alight while fireworks were being let off.

He said the fire was in a rural area and there was one property nearby but it wasn't affected.

Volunteer crew from Omokoroa Fire Brigade spent just over an hour putting out a large fire at the end of Plummers Point Rd, Whakamaramara about 9.20pm.

Northern Fire Communications shift manager Scott Osmond said the fire was caused by fireworks.

"That was a shelterbelt fire down the end near the wharf. It was quite big and was a way down in the estuary," he said.

"It was about 20m by 20m and that was in relation to fireworks."

Meanwhile, Mount Maunganui Fire Brigade were kept busy with two call-outs on Monday night - one to a bonfire and the other to a clothing bin that had been set alight.

Around the upper North Island, fire crews were called to about 360 jobs, Mr Osmond said.

Tauranga police Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders said there were no major police call-outs and everyone was well-behaved.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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