New survey reveals most Kiwis support banning backyard or recreational fireworks

As Guy Fawkes fast approaches and fireworks set to go on sale from Thursday, a new survey has found the majority of Kiwis support a ban on their use.  

The survey released to AM by AA Insurance found 53 percent of those surveyed supported a ban for recreational use, while an additional 20 percent wanted to go further and have fireworks banned entirely.    

Tom Bartlett from AA Insurance told AM on Wednesday a lot of the respondents cared about the safety of others.  

He told co-host Melissa Chan-Green AA was "surprised" by the amount of people who wanted to ban fireworks completely.   

"I think that takes the current theme of people care about the safety and the responsibility and the public nuisance that fireworks can cause," he said.  

Scaring animals, risk of fire, social disruption and irresponsible use ranked among the top reasons for people wanting them banned.  

"We're a nation that loves our pets and so there's a real big issue around fireworks and our pets... also, the potential for fires, the potential for property damage and for personal injury, so that was a big concern raised and finally, just the social disturbance and nuisance it causes," Bartlett said.  

"I think not everybody is conscious about when they set fireworks off and so those with young families have probably had to sit through many nights of fireworks going off all through the night and I think that really gets at Kiwis."  

Bartlett said the AA doesn't see many firework-related claims but they do see a steady increase in fire claims at this time of year.  

In the past year, the AA said it has seen an incremental increase in claims related to larger house fires and on top of the personal as well as the personal trauma of getting injured or losing treasured items the cost of repairs has skyrocketed.  

AA has paid out more than $15 million in claims related to larger house fires in the past 12 months. 

"One of the causes of those are people having backyard fires and fire pits and so I think for us to educate customers and Kiwis around just some safe ways in which they can enjoy fires and fireworks," Bartlett said.   

"For that, it's about always keeping watch of your fire and making sure that once you finish it's extinguished properly because I think people are probably really surprised at how quickly they can take hold and the levels of damage they could cause if they do catch fire as a property."  

Despite the survey results, incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon told AM on Wednesday he believes banning fireworks is not something he'd ever look at doing.   

He believes those wanting to celebrate Guy Fawkes should be able to have the choice.  

"The reality is people are choosing to go to public displays because they're often better displays than what you can generate in your own backyard from my own personal experience," he said.   

"I think people should have a choice and I think there has been good education, growing education over a number of years and as I said there are so many good public displays now held often at schools or other places that are much more enjoyable to watch."  

It comes after the SPCA on Monday pleaded with Kiwis to put fireworks down and to "take a stand for animal welfare".  

The charity said it receives dozens of welfare calls every year relating to animals that have run away in distress, been injured, frightened and occasionally deliberately abused with fireworks.    

In a statement, SPCA scientific officer Alison Vaughan said the loud noises and bright flashes from fireworks can cause "severe distress" for pets, farm animals and native bird populations.   

"Research shows that fireworks can have both short and long-term impacts on bird populations, from the initial panic causing birds to flee an area or even death to long-term impacts on breeding success. 

"A survey of horse guardians in New Zealand also found that 35 percent of respondents reported having horses break through a fence in response to fireworks and more than a quarter of respondents reported horses sustaining injuries."  

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority also made the decision to close all 14 ancestral mountains in Auckland in the lead-up to Guy Fawkes night to protect them from fire damage.   

This will be the fourth consecutive year the maunga is closed to the public after fires caused by fireworks broke out in 2019 and 2020. The areas closed from November 2-5 include One Tree Hill, Mt Wellington, Mt Eden and Mt Albert. 

Watch the full interview with Tom Bartlett in the video above.