Serious injuries from fireworks have dropped dramatically in the Bay following restrictions on sales and increased popularity in public displays.

During the first 14 days of November last year there were no incidents recorded as being fireworks-related in Tauranga Hospital's Emergency Department.

They were more likely to have treated patients suffering an upset stomach from the Guy Fawkes barbecue, said Derek Sage, clinical director of emergency medicine for the Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

More people were going to public displays and restrictions on the sales period and type of fireworks available seemed to have produced the desired returns, he said.


"Anything more would probably be excessive and heavy-handed. It would be the equivalent of saying people die in car crashes so we ban all cars."

St John district operations manager Jeremy Gooders said there had seen a dramatic drop in the number of fireworks-related injuries in the past two years.

"They've diminished significantly over the years. They're down to very low numbers ... we probably see one or two, less than five, each year," he said.

Mr Gooders declined to comment on whether he thought private fireworks should be banned.

Safety messages around the use of private fireworks, in particular not trying to relight fireworks that hadn't gone off, appeared to have been effective, he said.

"Public displays have become more popular and that's good because they're a safer environment generally."

Owner of Hamilton business Van Tiel Pyrotechnics, Martin Van Tiel, will be conducting the display at Baypark tonight, with a team of three or four staff.

Dr Van Tiel said he was required to notify the Civil Aviation Authority, Fire Service and Work Safe New Zealand of his safety plan for the event. He also required a test certificate stating his fireworks complied with the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.


Dr Van Tiel said the pyrotechnics used at Eden Park, which saw three spectators injured by flying shrapnel in August, was a "special effect" often used on film sets. It was not currently being used in New Zealand, pending investigation into the incident, he said.

Two other public displays are set to go ahead in the Western Bay next weekend.

Principal of St Mary's Catholic School, Ben Fuller, said the school would again let off fireworks from a barge 20 to 30m into the estuary at the end of Thirteenth Ave.

In the event's 15- to 20-year history there had not been any incidents, he said.

Mr Fuller said the distance of the barge out to sea meant spectators could safely enjoy the show from the water's edge.

It was getting harder to host the display, in terms of the consents required, but the school was in a unique position being able to let them off over the water, he said.

Fairhaven School in Te Puke has been hosting a public gala and fireworks display for 15 years, without incident.

Principal Paul Hunt said the generosity of the owners of a neighbouring farm meant there was a gully between where the fireworks were let off and the crowds of up to 5000 spectators at the school.

The school also had police, fire and ambulance staff, as well as private security, on site during the event.

"It's very popular. It's gone from really a school gala to a whole community event," he told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

Visitors came from Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatane and relatives even timed trips from the South Island to attend, he said.