A bid to ban New Zealanders from setting off fireworks in their backyard has been rejected by a Parliamentary committee.

The Government Administration Committee said a complete ban on the private use of fireworks went too far and was unenforceable.

The committee was responding to a petition signed by 25,000 people.

The petition said restrictions on fireworks introduced eight years ago had not eliminated negative effects such as distress to animals, injuries, fires, damage to property and public nuisance.


In its report on the petition, the committee said that competing interests needed to be carefully balanced when considering a ban.

MPs said they recognised the frustration many people felt about the unpredictability of private fireworks use.

"On the other hand, we note that many New Zealanders value backyard fireworks as a nostalgic family tradition and that most people who use fireworks do so safely and responsibly," the committee said.

The committee said there were already penalties for reckless use of fireworks and intentionally harming animals, people or property. Regulation changes in 2007 and 2008, which raised the age limit for purchasing fireworks, reduced the sales period, and set noise thresholds, had led to a "notable" decrease in fireworks-related incidents.

"We were advised that the amendments appear to have a struck a good balance between managing the harm created by a minority and the freedoms enjoyed by many to use fireworks safely," the committee said.

In 2006, officials said banning the private use of fireworks or limiting their use to a specified period would be difficult to enforce, and would fall to police to monitor.

"The advice we received on this petition indicated that these enforceability concerns still stand," the committee said.

During the consultation period, the New Zealand Fire Service drew attention to the rise in pop-up stores selling fireworks, and said this made it harder to monitor the safe storage of fireworks. In the event of a fire, it was important for firefighters to know whether a building contained explosive materials.


In response, the committee asked Government to look at introducing penalties for people who breached fireworks storage rules.