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Current as of 30/05/17 07:40PM NZST
Phil Taylor is a Weekend Herald and New Zealand Herald senior staff writer.

Fireworks sponsor wants others to come to party

Fireworks explode off the Sky Tower in central Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Fireworks explode off the Sky Tower in central Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

The head of the company that forked out nearly $100,000 for a New Year's Eve fireworks display says it is "embarrassing" that no one else came to the party.

"We are the only company that puts in any serious money into the fireworks on New Year's Eve," SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison told the Weekend Herald.

"I think quite frankly it's embarrassing. It's not the council that pays for that, we pay for that. We would have invested seventy to a hundred grand for fireworks on New Year's Eve.

"I was on the harbour looking back at it and I thought there would be stuff going off the bridge and this and that and there was nothing." Mr Morrison said.

"I felt quite sad that we were the only one doing it. Maybe we need Dotcom back."

Kim Dotcom gifted the country a $500,000 fireworks show for the 2011 New Year as a thank you to New Zealand for granting him residency. The internet millionaire is fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces criminal copyright charges related to his file-sharing company Mega.

Fireworks are a regular feature of the annual Diwali and Auckland Lantern festivals, funded by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed). A fireworks spectacular was a feature last year of the Auckland semifinal of the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and South Africa, said Ateed general manager (destination) Vivien Bridgwater.

Ateed does not sponsor Christmas in the Park, which ends with a fireworks display, but does not rule out being part of a New Year event.

"If the overall cost of the display could be funded as part of another major event, or included within a wider Auckland brand marketing campaign which would drive visitation to the city at that time of the year, then we would certainly look at a case to support New Year's Eve fireworks displays," Ms Bridgwater said.

I thought there would be stuff going off the bridge and this and that and there was nothing. I felt quite sad that we were the only one doing it.
SkyCity's Nigel Morrison

"As the events calendar currently stands, any expense would directly be met by ratepayers and isn't justified for a single stand-alone event."

Sydney uses its harbour bridge as a centrepiece for a New Year fireworks display that has become globally renowned and is a revenue earner. The City of Sydney reportedly spent a record A$7 million on revelry this New Year's Eve, including $900,000 - or $45,000 a minute - on fireworks.

It has an earlier "kids' fireworks" display lasting eight minutes and the midnight fireworks go for 12 minutes. The shows attract a million people to the harbour and a global television audience of one billion.

The City of Sydney considered it "money well spent" at a cost of less than a dollar per reveller and the Australian Financial Review reported in August that councillors voted unanimously in favour of forking out extra money for additional fireworks.

Destination New South Wales research indicated that New Year's Eve had a direct economic impact on the state of New South Wales of more than $133 million.

But not everyone thought it was a good investment. An online petition calling for the money to instead be used to help struggling Australian farmers gained more than 30,000 supporters.

- NZ Herald

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