With most of Nelson’s reserves closed due to increasing fire risk, and a ban on fireworks imposed by Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) across the region, Nelson City Council has decided not to go ahead with the fireworks display at the end of Opera in the Park on 15 February.

FENZ had granted Combat Pyrotechnics a permit for the fireworks display, but that permit was made void once the firework ban was imposed.

Combat Pyrotechnics had applied for an exemption, and provided a list of precautionary measures for the safe running of the display. FENZ was considering this new application in light of the current ‘Extreme’ fire risk status and lack of rain between now and Saturday.

However, despite these measures, Council decided continuing with the display would not be in line with the precautions taken elsewhere to prevent wildfires.

 “This was obviously a hard decision to make, but we can’t ask Nelsonians to be vigilant about fire risk, without also being as responsible as possible ourselves,” says Group Manager Community Services Roger Ball.

FENZ Area Commander Grant Haywood and Principal Rural Fire Officer Ian Reade both agree the decision was the right one to take given the current conditions.

“Given the regional ban on fireworks, and the hot and dry weather it would have been very hard for the display to go ahead. It’s very dry out there right now, so the focus has to be prevention.”

The use of water sprinklers would also have required considerable use of Nelson's water supply, at a time when we are asking residents to be mindful of conserving water.

“Fire risk in our region is increasing,” says Ball. “And the last thing anyone wants is a repeat of the Pigeon Valley fire or last year’s one above The Wood. We know this is a sacrifice, but hope people will understand how seriously we have to take safety at our events.”

Council is now working with Combat Pyrotechnics to repurpose some, if not all, of the fireworks for the council-supported Matariki event in June/July.

Music director Pete Rainey says those going to the event still have an exciting line up of the Opera world’s brightest stars to look forward to.

“Opera in the Park is primarily about the music,” says Rainey. “And there’s enough explosive talent in the line-up to keep people happy.”

Tami Neilson and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra headline the event, while earlier in the night contemporary singer/songwriter Jason Kerrison joins baritone Niuafolau Joel Amosa, soprano Eliza Boom and tenor Jared Holt.

Gates open at 5.30pm and pre-concert entertainment is provided by Nelson City Brass, New Zealand’s newest A grade brass band.

With the weather forecast for Saturday looking to be warm and sunny, it’s well worth booking your ticket in advance.

Tickets are available through Theatre Royal Nelson, Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, Richmond Mall, Nelson, and Blenheim i-SITE, online at ticketdirect.co.nz or phone 0800 224 224.

For performance updates go to summerevents.nz or the Nelson City Presents Facebook page.

Opera in the Park: Trafalgar Park and Pavilion, 5.30pm-10pm, Saturday 15 February 2020.  Adults $25, child aged 5 – 15 years $5, under 5s free (prices exclude TicketRocket service fee).