Minimum purchasing age of fireworks raised in New Zealand

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Friday, December 22, 2006

The New Zealand government has announced that the new minimum purchasing age to buy fireworks in New Zealand is 18-years instead of the current age of 14-years. Also the amount of time fireworks are available for sale during Guy Fawkes has been restricted to three days before Guy Fawkes night instead of ten days. The New Zealand Fire Service has welcomed the new restrictions despite them calling for a complete ban.

The Environment minister, Honourable David Benson-Pope, said: "This aims to restrict young teenagers from purchasing these potentially harmful explosives, and to make the Guy Fawkes season less taxing for the Fire Service and Police. We want to see fireworks users behaving responsibly, being aware of and avoiding fire risk, guarding the personal safety of themselves and others, and being aware of the effect the noise has on animals."

Further restrictions have also been announced which will ban the separate sale of sparklers. Sparklers will only be available for purchase in packs contained with other fireworks. This restriction is to try and prevent the dangerous, home-made "sparkler bombs."

Mike Hall, chief executive of the New Zealand Fire Service, said that he is pleased with the new restrictions around the sale of fireworks. "I met with the minister in November and expressed the Fire Service’s concerns, and it’s good to see that some action has come out of that."

In response to why the government had not banned the complete sale of fireworks, Hon Benson-Pope said: "I have listened to the various groups that do want a ban, and I am still open to that possibility in the future, but I believe the best approach at this stage is to tighten up the laws around sale."

The government has asked the Environmental Risk Management Authority to investigate the fireworks available for purchase in regards to the style, design and the construction of the various fireworks. "...and next year government will consult with industry about new regulations in this area," Hon Benson-Pope said.

Mr Hall said: "Obviously we won’t know whether or not the measures Mr Benson-Pope has introduced will go far enough until the Guy Fawkes period in 2007, but we certainly hope they will limit the chaos we have seen in the past couple of years."

Hon Benson-Pope said: "Guy Fawkes is a fun event for thousands of families, and fireworks-related damage is caused by a small group of mostly young people. I don't feel it's fair on New Zealanders to ban fireworks sales at this stage because of the actions of a minority."

"I understand the frustration the Police and Fire Service teams feel when faced with problems over Guy Fawkes, and I hope these new restrictions will send a message that deliberate harm or damage is criminal and is being clamped down on," Mr Benson-Pope said.

The next Guy Fawkes day is November 5, 2007.

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Sources

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