Every year at the Lakeside concerts, the fireworks steals the show. But will the current drought conditions allow for the fireworks to go ahead this year? Journalist Kelly Makiha finds out.
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Rotorua's conditions are the driest they have been in years and while domestic fireworks look set to be temporarily banned, the Lakeside concert's annual fireworks display should still go ahead.
It's less than two weeks before the annual Rotorua outdoor concert at the Village Green and the event's organisers are doing everything possible to ensure the concert will finish with the traditional bang.
Lakeside 2020 Tātau Tātau (Us Together), a free outdoor concert featuring top national and local acts, will take place on Saturday February 29.
This line-up includes Hollie Smith, Adeaze, Krissy Knap, Russell Harrison, Dennis Marsh, Howie Morrison Jnr, Nikau Grace-Chater, Kindred, AloFa, Amelia Berry, Maisey Rika, Savage and Rewa Ututaonga.
Artistic director Rawiri Waru has this year created a theme that brings together different cultures to celebrate diversity.
Now in its 24th year, the concert always finishes with a fireworks extravaganza.
Pyrotechnics expert Dr Martin Van Tiel, who had provided the display every year since the concert began and was also behind fireworks at the Coca Cola Christmas in the Park events in Auckland and Christchurch, said the fireworks were launched from a barge on Lake Rotorua, making the displaying very low risk.
He said there were large green mature trees surrounding the venue and concrete paths.
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"It's hugely different from doing a fireworks display in dry scrubland."
He said fireworks were designed to burn in the sky and the paper fragments inside them extinguished before hitting the ground.
"We have worked in extremely dry conditions before but it's about managing the risk."
He said the fire risk was always well gauged by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
"They know how we work and know that we are sensible. We are really looking forward to it again. It's an amazing event for the community and it's great the organisers have kept the event running for so long."
Lakeside Charitable Trust chairman Ian Edward said there had been concern about the fireworks given the drought conditions.
"We are mindful of that."
However, he said he had great faith in Van Tiel.
"His argument is we have never had a problem in any year he has been doing them under similar weather conditions. The very nature of the launch (on the lake) and the surrounding green trees means there is almost no risk in an event but as part of the procedural process they will plan to deal with any level of risk."
He said any decision about the fireworks would be made in co-operation with Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Pumicelands principal rural fire officer Steve Webb said the weather conditions were so dry at the moment, they would soon prohibit the use of domestic fireworks, which meant those who still had fireworks left over from Guy Fawkes would not be allowed to let them off.
He said despite that ban, he was comfortable with events such as Lakeside and it was unlikely the fireworks would be cancelled next weekend.
"We will probably let it go ahead because we are pretty comfortable with how it is managed."
Although there were showers forecast for later this week and rain on Sunday, a short period of rain would not be enough to break drought conditions, Webb said.
"I see people still throwing cigarette butts out windows. If we could have ashtrays put back in cars it would make a difference. People need to be careful with chainsaws and motor mowers too as one spark can start a fire.
"The conditions now are the driest it's been for a very long time so we need to be careful."
Lakeside 2020 Tātau Tātau details:
When: Saturday February 29, 7pm-10.30pm
Where: Rotorua Lakefront, Village Green
What: Free open air concert (but some paid seats immediately in front of the stage)
Charity: Rotorua Sunrise Rotary will be doing a collection for KidsCan. T-shirts can also be bought for $30 to support the charity by going to rotorualakesideconcert.co.nz/product/tatau-tatau-t-shirts
What to bring: Warm clothing, picnics, low chairs, small amounts of alcohol are permitted (one bottle of wine or six bottles/cans of beer or six bottles of cider).