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By ALANAH MAY ERIKSEN
The Government's new restrictions on the sale of fireworks have some people in Rotorua sceptical.

The local fire service and the victims of fireworks-related troubles that plagued Rotorua during November are taking a wait-and-see approach to the new rules.

The Government has announced the 10-day fireworks sale period will be trimmed to three days, the minimum legal sale age raised from 14 to 18 and sparklers will only be sold as part of larger fireworks packs.

There were about 30 fireworks-related incidents in Rotorua this year during the 10-day period they were on sale.

A Pleasant Heights house was severely damaged, several letterboxes were the targets of fireworks "bombs" and there were scrub, rubbish, fence and building fires.



Rotorua's chief fire officer Wayne Bedford is disappointed that instead of fireworks being banned altogether, the Government has simply placed new restrictions on their sale.

Mr Bedford said it was just a "wait-and-see game" to see if the restrictions would make a difference during the lead-up to Guy Fawkes next year.

"We will see what happens. Like any new law it's hard to say how it will affect things. We can only hope people will get the message and heed the warnings that have been given."

He thought the Government would have had fireworks banned.

"It seemed to be heading that way - there was enough public support and support from other agencies to do it."

Mr Bedford is expecting people will be letting off fireworks on New Year's Eve this Sunday but is not sure if it will be a repeat of the ongoing problems in November.

He said people would be better off attending the New Year's Eve Mardi Gras at the Rotorua Lakefront and watching the public fireworks display there.

"They can enjoy a good family night and the fireworks will be the climax."

Catherine and Jonathan Gettins' Turner Dr house was left gutted by fire after fireworks fired at their home set alight a couch on their outside porch.

The pair were left homeless and lost nearly all of their belongings to smoke or fire damage.

Mrs Gettins said the new restrictions were a step in the right direction but she would rather see public displays only.



"I'm really happy about the age limit but it doesn't stop idiot parents leaving fireworks out for young people to get their hands on."

She has created an address, nzfpetition@hotmail.com, calling for people keen to help collect signatures for a petition asking for a total ban on the sale of fireworks and to encourage public fireworks displays only.

"So many people I have spoken to are absolutely horrified about what happened to us. I've had emails from people in other towns wanting to take the petition there and one from a lady in Sweden who is campaigning over there."

Mrs Gettins wanted to officially launch the petition in February but may wait until after Guy Fawkes in November to see if the new restrictions make a difference.

She is also working with the New Zealand Fire Service to get statistics to back her petition.