Palmerston North is the only city having a free public fireworks display on Guy Fawkes night, November 5, this year, with many other locations dropping them altogether, or holding paid events on other days during November.
Christchurch is the latest major centre in New Zealand to decide it will no longer hold a fireworks display to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day. For the last 23 years Christchurch City Council has put on a public display either on the day or, in recent years, on the weekend closest to November 5.
Auckland Council does not put on a Guy Fawkes fireworks display, and in 2017 Wellington dropped its Guy Fawkes display in favour of Matariki.
Christchurch City Council's manager of events and arts Tanya Cokojic said the council was planning this year's November fireworks display when the Covid-19 lockdown was underway but, after consulting with the public, a decision was made to instead hold the fireworks event in July as a celebration of Matariki.
Cokojic said she feels Guy Fawkes is becoming increasingly irrelevant in New Zealand.
"New Zealand is now more primed to celebrate our own culture and have something that is unique to us. A lot of those large-scale fireworks events are moving away from 5 November and they are moving away from being referred to as Guy Fawkes and I think that identifies that we want something that belongs to us, and is unique to us and our culture."
She said private use of fireworks on and around Guy Fawkes was a concern, but she called on people to follow Fire and Emergency's safety advice.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand's national adviser for fire risk management Todd O'Donoghue said they would prefer people attend public events rather than put on their own fireworks display.
"Basically they are a safer way to see fireworks and you get better value for money for what you see. Sadly there has never been enough public displays to go around across the country, they have always tended to be patchy in some places and we are seeing a move from some councils to move their community-funded public displays to other times of the year."
He said with free public displays decreasing people may need to look further afield.
He said, for instance, those in Christchurch could head out to Motukarara on November 7.
Palmerston North is one spot where there will be a free fireworks display on Guy Fawkes day.
Ian Roberts has been the co-ordinator of the Kairanga Lions Club's fireworks displays for the last 30 years, and for the past five, they have put on a fireworks display for Palmerston North for the city council.
He said based on previous turnouts there was certainly still interest in public firework displays.
"We've got no way of counting the numbers, but the streets are blocked for about two hours after and that we need a traffic management plan to manage the congestion indicates a lot of people are coming to see it."
This year the council has reduced the funding for the event from $20,000 to $15,000, and the Kairanga Lions Club is attempting to meet the shortfall with a Givealittle page.
Roberts said safety is their number one priority, and it was obvious that public events were safer than holding multiple private events in people's backyards.
He describes himself as a fireworks fanatic but said he's not committed to keeping November as New Zealand's fireworks time of year, and would be quite happy with organising a fireworks display for Matariki instead.
"There's no logic really in having a celebration to commemorate a guy who tried to blow up the British parliament in the umpteenth century."
O'Donoghue has some advice for those determined to put on their own fireworks display.
He recommends people read the instructions with a torch beforehand, keep unlit fireworks in the original packaging until ready to light them, and that adults light them in a clear, open area away from anything that can catch fire.
He also recommends damping down the area with a hose beforehand, and keeping a hose or a bucket of water handy.