Auckland Council have today announced that 14 maunga will close in the evenings during Guy Fawkes week this year.
The closures will be in place every year while fireworks remain available for public sale, a statement from the council's Tūpuna Maunga Authority said today.
It follows fires that have besieged maunga in Auckland including Mt Eden on Guy Fawkes night last year, Māngere Mountain in December last year and Mt Wellington in April this year.
Last month yet another fire tore up the lower slopes of Mt Wellington, caused by a group of youths playing with fireworks.
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, the statement said.
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, these 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," Majurey said.
“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.
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,” Majurey said.
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
- 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