People lighting fireworks at the summit of Mauao in Mount Maunganui have sparked outrage from residents and a warning from authorities.
The fireworks were let off about 9pm from the top of Mauao on Thursday, 10 months after a large fire believed to have been caused by fireworks ripped through the mountain and caused significant damage.
Mauao Area Wildlife Trust chairwoman Julia Graham said if fire had taken hold on Thursday night the results would have been ''utterly devastating''.
''Of course, where there are fireworks there is often fire, and fireworks are thought to have been the cause of the last fire, so straight away it's an issue.
''We're in the middle of the grey-faced petrel breeding season as well as so many others. It's definitely something of concern.''
Ms Graham said she believed the people responsible knew the dangers of their actions.
''They knew what they were doing. As soon as they let those fireworks off they were out of there. You could see lights bobbing down the hill.''
Ms Graham called the council, the ranger and the police in an effort to get the offenders caught but no one was found. She also took to social media, where her upset was shared by many other Mount residents.
''It's not a 'should fireworks be banned' thing. This is about Mauao and the safety of our special, beautiful mountain. There's plenty of safe places where people can let their fireworks off, but we need to look after our Mauao.''
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Mauao Maori representative Awanui Black said lighting fireworks on the mountain was ''inexcusable'' and he questioned ''the stupidity of people at times''.
Mr Black said the council was planning a meeting about Mauao on Monday and he believed this would be raised as an issue. He proposed an option of increasing the monitoring of the mountain at certain times of the year to help prevent these kinds of situations.
Tauranga City Council acting manager of parks and recreation Phill Everett said the incident was upsetting and the council relied heavily on people to obey the rules, ''however unfortunately it only takes one event like this to threaten the values and safety of others on Mauao''.
Mr Everett said the council took this kind of activity very seriously, especially after the large January fire.
''One of the main factors making Mauao a significant risk is the steep terrain. As per the recent fire event, something as small as a firework can spread rapidly upslope and burn a large area in a matter of minutes
"As we head into the summer season with higher temperatures the risk will increase,'' he said.
The lifeguard service helped transport firefighters to the summit of Mauao but fire service station officer Paul van Kol said they could find no people or evidence of the fireworks as it had become quite dark.
About 1am, Mount Maunganui firefighters were also called to a rubbish bin fire near Baywave that had been set alight by fireworks.
Fire risk at Mauao
Mauao Historic Reserve is part of the Pumicelands Enlarged Rural Fire District covered by the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977. Under the provisions of the Act, fireworks are regarded as an open fire due to the risk they pose, and they are prohibited on Mauao.