The Auckland maunga have been besieged by serious fires caused by fireworks over the last 12 months, prompting the Tūpuna Maunga Authority to take stronger action to protect them.
Fourteen maunga administered by the Authority will be closed to the public in the evenings during Guy Fawkes week this year, and every year while fireworks remain available for public sale.
The announcement was first made following the massive fires at Maungarei / Mt Wellington and Maungawhau / Mt Eden on Guy Fawkes night last year, and was reconfirmed after fireworks caused an enormous blaze which ripped through the crater of Te Pane o Mataaho / Te Ara Pueru / Māngere Mountain in December last year, and a further fire on Maungarei / Mt Wellington in April this year.
Just last month yet another fire tore up the lower slopes of Maungarei / Mt Wellington, caused by a group of youths playing with fireworks.
Maunga closures for Guy Fawkes 2020
This year, the following maunga will be closed Monday 2 November to Sunday 8 November, from 7.30pm through to usual gate opening times the following day:
- Matukutūruru / Wiri Mountain
- Maungakiekie / One Tree Hill
- Maungarei / Mount Wellington
- Maungawhau / Mount Eden
- Maungauika / North Head
- Ōwairaka / Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura / Mount Albert
- Ōhinerau / Mount Hobson
- Ōhuiarangi / Pigeon Mountain
- Ōtāhuhu / Mount Richmond
- Pukewīwī / Puketāpapa / Mount Roskill
- Te Kōpuke / Tītīkōpuke / Mount St John
- Takarunga / Mount Victoria
- Te Pane o Mataaho / Te Ara Pueru / Māngere Mountain
- Te Tātua a Riukiuta / Big King
Security staff and volunteers will patrol the maunga and explain the closures to visitors. Any visitors on the maunga when the gates are closed will be asked to leave.
Respecting the maunga
Paul Majurey, chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, says the continuous threat of fireworks to the maunga has been well documented and the closures will come as no surprise.
“The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has responsibilities under health and safety legislation to ensure the safety of visitors to the maunga. But there’s a bigger picture here around respecting our heritage. Most of the maunga in Tāmaki Makaurau were important pā settlements, home to our tūpuna and sites of birth, battle and burial. They are waahi tapu and regarded by mana whenua as taonga tuku iho – treasures handed down the generations."
"Today, the maunga are among the most important cultural and natural heritage sites anywhere in New Zealand and are on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Status. Protecting them from burning is a straight-forward decision.” Paul Majurey, Tūpuna Maunga Authority Chair.
“For the last six years, we’ve trusted the public to adhere to the fireworks ban on the maunga and obey the signage. That has not worked, and we continue to see fireworks-related fires caused by people who are unable to resist placing personal fun over public safety and respect for these taonga. These fires are serious – they cause significant harm and a huge strain on fire and emergency services,” says Majurey.
Working with Fire and Emergency New Zealand
Fire and emergency crews have unrestricted access to the maunga via an access code to entrance gates, though the terrain and distance from water supplies make extinguishing a fire on the maunga extremely difficult.
The authority also works proactively with Fire and Emergency New Zealand each fire season to review fire safety plans on the maunga and to implement safety measures such as mowing fire breaks between the maunga and adjoining properties.
Supporting a ban on fireworks sales
In August this year, the authority expressed disappointment in the parliamentary governance and administration select committee’s failure to ban the private sale of fireworks.
“The select committee had a responsibility here to put measures in place that would take fireworks out of the hands of those who aren’t capable of using them sensibly, while still allowing the public to enjoy controlled public fireworks displays. It’s extremely disappointing they did not do that,” said Majurey.
Visit maunga.nz for more information about the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.