Whakatane fireworks to return, years after fiery disaster


Whakatane will have a public fireworks show this year - the first since 2009, when 40 minutes' worth of bangers exploded in about 40 seconds.

Thousands of dollars' worth of pyrotechnics went off at once in the fiery mishap, brilliantly lighting up the Bay of Plenty sky, but also causing a large scrub fire.

"It was just amazing, it was spectacular," Raewyn, an eyewitness, told Newshub in 2009. "It was like a bonfire and it went right across the whole entire bank."

Two people were taken to hospital with minor injuries after the accident.

This time extra precautions are being taken, with a grade five pyrotechnician overseeing the sparks, Whakatane District Council says.

The November 12 Sky Show, two years in the making, will take place at Rugby Park.

"There's a 40-tonne shipping container holding a lot of money's worth of fireworks on its way," event organiser Larni Hepi says.

"Many of the fireworks have never been seen before in New Zealand, and some have been made exclusively for the Sky Show."

There'll be more than fireworks on the night, Mr Hepi says. The four-hour event includes food stalls, rides, kapa haka and acclaimed singer-songwriter Maisey Rika.

Mr Hepi says 2000 early-bird tickets were bought in less than an hour, and general sale tickets are expected to sell out.