Opinion: It's time to ban these bloody things
I hate fireworks. I've always hated them. But now my hatred has reached new levels. It's time to ban these stupid things.
Yeah, yeah, I know, there's the argument that that will penalise responsible people. There's always that argument. Drink-driving. Sugar taxes. Dog registrations. Blah blah blah. The problem is that in life there are also irresponsible people.
I live in a very densely populated part of Auckland. Fireworks were still going off at midnight. That's a bit annoying. Somehow my toddler only woke up twice. My cat got a few frights. Annoying.
But it’s about more than just annoyance. The Fire Service was called to 117 fireworks-related incidents throughout the country last night.
Within a 22-minute period last night St John transferred two kids to Starship Hospital, where they are each in a serious condition.
That’s just a start - there were 441 firework-related injuries last year.
It used to be far worse. Fireworks used to be much more powerful, with fewer restrictions. I recall a school friend being horribly burned. I remember the awful stories of 'double-happies' being taped together and tied to animals, or inserted in their ears.
Since those grim days, restrictions on what sort of fireworks can be sold have been introduced. The sale period has been reduced to four days, although there are still no restrictions on when they can be let off. And every year, the same stories. Buildings catching fire. People getting hurt. Animals getting spooked.
Other countries take this much more seriously than we do. We're lax.
In Australia, a license is required for any firework that gets airborne or creates an explosion.
In France, you need authorisation from the local council and to notify the fire service before setting off fireworks.
The UK has strict rules on what you can set off, and where. The latest rules were introduced after the fireworks-related deaths of two people.
I got called a "party pooper" last night in a tweet, after I made my position known. "Come on, let the kids have their fun," it continued.
Sure, if we must, let's keep sparklers, party poppers and the like - the most meek and mild of fireworks.
Sure, let’s keep public and professional displays. Take the kids along, enjoy the show. I've no problem with them. They're unquestionably safer, usually free, and a damned sight more impressive than some poxy little backyard rocket.
I'm no saint. I've done my share of stupid things, despite my hatred, like skyrocket fights with my mates. We thought it was hilarious at the time, probably because we were a bunch of 20-year-old idiots.
And that's the thing - there are always idiots.
The facts are undeniable. Years of celebrating this imported tradition have shown us the same thing, over and over again.
When it comes to the private sale of fireworks, we cannot be trusted.