A man is facing being blind in one eye after he was struck with debris at Dunedin's public New Year's Eve display.

Wayne Boss, who works for the Dunedin City Council, was watching the council-run display with his family when he was hit in the right eye and knocked to the ground.

"I'm looking up at the Dunedin council Octagon building where the fireworks are being set off and it's black obviously," Boss said from his hospital bed.

"And just for a split second I saw an object which I thought was a spent rocket. But we are talking milliseconds because then I get a blow to my right eye which was so hard it just floored me."


His son, Ben, said: "I turned my head in a matter of milliseconds, I saw the object strike him in the eye.

"It looked like debris or a fragment of some black object that was moving very quickly from the sky."

Boss, a keen cyclist and skier and the council's senior environmental health officer, was driven to hospital by police and surgery was performed until 4am.

"I've just been back to see the eye surgeon and he said the lens is at the rear of my eye, the pupil is in three parts and it will need at least another two operations, and well, he said a very long time recovery. I'm just worried that I won't see.

"Even the surgeon's absolutely shocked by what's occurred and the damage to my eye. And it should have been just an enjoyable time. We only planned to be there half an hour and go home."

Boss's wife, Fiona, told the Herald tonight the family had been watching the last round of fireworks, just after midnight, when the incident happened.

"It was so powerful, it knocked him to the ground. He was holding his eye and he says: 'A firework has hit me in the face'.

"At that time, there was blood trickling down his face.''

She and her son quickly helped her husband up and took him towards the side of the footpath, away from the crowds.

When they eventually got to hospital, they were told an eye surgeon needed to be called in.

Wayne Boss underwent surgery about 2.30am. Doctors have told the family he will need a further two operations in the next two weeks.

Fiona Boss said there were young children around them at the time of the incident and that had a firework hit one of them instead, the consequences could have been even more serious.

"There was a small baby over the shoulder of someone standing next to us - if it would've hit that child, I can't imagine.''

WorkSafe said it had been notified of the incident by Boss' family and would determine whether they would investigate.

A spokesman for the Dunedin City Council said they fully supported a WorkSafe investigation and would wait for any outcomes and recommendations that may come as a result.

"We are very sad to hear that there has been a hospitalisation as a result of injuries from last night's celebrations.

"Our thoughts are with Wayne and we hope that he has a speedy recovery,'' the spokesman told the Herald.

"We are always concerned when anyone gets injured during festivities.

"The health and safety of our residents is always our number one concern.''