Fireworks show planned for 5 year old's birthday outrages neighbours

NZ 08/06/2018

A proposed commercial fireworks display for a five-year-old's birthday has led to threats and abuse in the small community of Waitoki.

Locals in the area, located in the Rodney District north of Auckland, are up in arms over businessman Damien Grant's plans to celebrate on Saturday.

He's been accused of being "selfish, self-centred and arrogant" by residents - and they're wishing the worst upon him.

Mr Grant has held the display for his son over the past four years, and nearby animal owners say they're sick of it.

"There is an extremely high chance the fireworks could cause injury or death to these horses," Kaimanawa Heritage Horses muster coordinator Simone Frewin told NZME.

"Sadly he is immune to reason and considers the potential enjoyment of the 40 children and more than 80 adults to be of greater importance than serious trauma and potential catastrophic loss of life."

Resident Anna Paratene says the display causes her anguish, and she's had to sedate or move her animals. She's tried to get the display banned, but to no avail.

"I contacted NZ Worksafe last year, and they found that he had not contacted them, so I nearly got last year's display stopped, however, they rang him, which then gave him a couple of days to give them the correct notification," she told Stuff.

"I spoke to the council by-laws officer who issued him a permit last year, and asked him why he didn't have to talk to neighbours to see how this display impacts on us, but he wouldn't really answer."

Others have called it a "hellish experience" and have begged for the private use of fireworks to be banned. Others took it further in a since-deleted Facebook post.

But Mr Grant says he's done nothing wrong and has given his neighbours enough time to remove their animals.

"I sent out a warning notice to all my neighbours within about 4km, giving them plenty of time to move their horses if they were concerned," he told NZME.

"I've done everything within my legal right."

Last year cars belonging to those attending the display were vandalised. And this year Mr Grant's email and phone number have been posted to Facebook.

Mr Grant has retorted, saying this was out of line and he's employed some "very polite chaps" to protect the show.

"Last year there was some malarky with the vehicles, so this year we have hired some very polite chaps to ensure everyone's property is safe," he posted to Facebook.

"If you react in this way and act like this, then people won't be so considerate to give notice."