Fourteen maunga, or volcanic cones, in Auckland will be closed during Guy Fawkes week to avoid blazes caused by fireworks.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority is closing the maunga to the public after fireworks caused an enormous blaze which ripped through the crater of Te Pane o Mataaho / Māngere Mountain in December last year, and a fire on Maungarei / Mt Wellington in April this year.
Just last month yet another fire tore up the lower slopes of Maungarei / Mt Wellington, caused by a group of youths playing with fireworks.
The maunga will be closed at night from November 2 until November 8.
Security staff and volunteers will patrol the maunga and explain the closures to visitors from 7.30pm to the usual gate opening times. Any visitors on the maunga when the gates are closed will be asked to leave.
Fire and emergency crews will have access to the maunga via an access code to entrance gates, although the terrain and distance from water supplies make extinguishing a fire difficult.
Tūpuna Maunga Authority chairman Paul Majurey said the continuous threat of fireworks to the maunga has been well documented and the closures will come as no surprise.
"For the last six years we've trusted the public to adhere to the fireworks ban on the maunga and obey the signage. That has not worked, and we continue to see fireworks-related fires caused by people who are unable to resist placing personal fun over public safety and respect for these taonga.
"These fires are serious – they cause significant harm and a huge strain on fire and emergency services."
He said the authority has responsibilities under health and safety legislation to ensure the safety of visitors to the maunga but there was a bigger picture around respecting heritage.
"Most of the maunga in Tāmaki Makaurau were important pā settlements, home to our tūpuna and sites of birth, battle and burial. They are waahi tapu and regarded by Mana Whenua as taonga tuku iho – treasures handed down the generations."
The maunga are among the most important cultural and natural heritage sites anywhere in New Zealand and are on the tentative list for Unesco World Heritage Status, he said.
In August this year the authority was disappointed at the parliamentary governance and administration select committee's decision not to ban the private sale of fireworks.
The closures will occur every year while fireworks remain on sale to the public to protect the maunga. Fireworks have been banned on the 14 maunga administered by the authority since it was established in 2014.
Matukutūruru / Wiri Mountain
Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill
Maungarei / Mt Wellington
Maungawhau / Mt Eden
Maungauika / North Head
Ōwairaka / Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura / Mt Albert
Ōhinerau / Mt Hobson
Ōhuiarangi / Pigeon Mountain
Ōtāhuhu / Mt Richmond
Pukewīwī / Puketāpapa / Mt Roskill
Te Kōpuke / Tītīkōpuke / Mt St John
Takarunga / Mt Victoria
Te Pane o Mataaho / Māngere Mountain
Te Tātua a Riukiuta / Big King