New Year's Eve fireworks display deemed 'pathetic'

Up to 20,000 people came to see the midnight fireworks display in Dunedin's Octagon. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Up to 20,000 people came to see the midnight fireworks display in Dunedin's Octagon. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Not everyone was smiling when New Year's Eve revellers in Dunedin celebrated the start of 2013 with a bang.

Up to 20,000 people crammed into the Octagon for the midnight fireworks display, which saw $10,000 worth of colourful explosives launched from the Civic Centre roof over about five minutes.

However, Dunedin city councillor Neil Collins - who watched from the nearby Radio Otago House - yesterday labelled the show a ''pathetic'' and ''embarrassing'' fizzer.

''It was like someone had decided to go down to the $3 Shop and brought a party pack [of fireworks].

''It was pathetic. God, it was embarrassing.''

He insisted the city needed to lift its game and said he would push for a bigger budget at this month's annual plan hearing.

''We used to have a good display here, but the last few years they have just dwindled.''

Dunedin City Council events team leader Marilyn Anderson said $70,000 from the council's events fund was allocated to this year's New Year's Eve festivities, as well as $8500 of external funding.

That covered the $10,000 fireworks display by staff from Christchurch-based firm Fireworks International, which did ''a stunning job'', and all other event costs, from entertainers to public toilets and security, she said.

The budget had remained unchanged for the past three years, but was presented to councillors for approval each year, she said.

''It's a very, very tight budget and it's worked very, very carefully,'' she said.

Despite that, the only feedback had been positive. Many revellers arrived in the Octagon late in the evening, specifically to see the fireworks, she said.

''We have had no complaints about the quality of the fireworks show,'' she said.

Council community development and events manager Rebecca Williams said a better display would require a bigger budget, ''but that's a choice councillors make''.

Luxury councillors

Here again we have a councillor who just will not learn the city cannot afford luxuries.

Cr Collins is a councillor who continually votes for such luxuries which has lead to the current situation facing the city council.

This years vote may well see a reductionin the number of those councillors.

Municipal fireworks saga

To be fair, if you want to hear from Neil Collins, you could tune to Radio Dunedin daily. The councillor has also advocated easier parking for the elderly, and replacement of some buildings deemed heritage.

What doesn't Cr Collins get?

Cr Neil Collins is hardly showing any recognition whatsoever that the council is having to cut back on mounting debt and blowing more than $10,000 on fireworks is clearly not on the right path to doing so. What doesn't he get? We hardly ever hear from him and, when we do, he comes up with this thoughtless, negative comment.

Exagerated numbers

Once again we see fictional numbers plucked out of the air regarding the numbers that attended the New Years Eve bash in the Octagon. Prior to the event the DCC Events unit was expecting 10,000 people. And now the ODT is reporting 20,000. Speaking to a few well informed and experienced people the numbers were estimated to be 6000+ for most of the night, swelling to about 8000-9000 for the fireworks.

As for Neil Collins comments, certainly other towns/cities put on very spectacular firework displays. But then they probably aren't saddled with the mediocrity that the Dunedin City Council(lors) and the DCC have by the bucket load. I for one will be glad to see Neil Collins, Bill Ackland and a few of the 'old guard' and less effective newbies go at the next election.

You have got it all wrong

Newbie:   Its the fact it was built against the wishes of over 80% of the ratepayers That is the  problem. They were told no and they went ahead anyway as if they knew better than us. History now shows that we were right, not them. It's also the fact that no one has been held accountable for this mess we now see ourselves in and until someone is, we wont get over it. No way this should have happened in a democratic country. 

I, like many others, refuse to support it, and we are paying way more than initially qouted to us anyway. Free tickets wont get me there either. 

Just you wait until you have been here a bit longer and see how the council just pushes things through to suit their own agenda, regardless of the opinion of those footing the bill. You will then wish you had taken your chances in Christchurch. 

Once again

So once again, certain councillors want to have their 'cake and eat it to'. Obviously they conveniently forget what they've done and what they helped reap on those of 'lesser disposition'.


Better fireworks

The 1948 fireworks at Tahuna were a great display. Surely its time for the Council to consider moving the New Year celebration to the Tahuna venue? There is far more room. There is heaps of room for vehicle parking. (In 1948 there was over 30 buses from out of town.) There could be an area for the public to fire off their fireworks. There would be enough room for the bands to play without playing over each other as in the Octagon. And the Orange, Australia programme with one display at 9pm for families and the very elderly plus another at 12 for the younger set sounds a great idea. Oh - and the bands should be at no cost to the DCC. After all look at all the free marketing they get! It's time for the Council to move away from the Octagon with all its space problems. And why do we need paid "security"? Security against what? Mind you - the best fireworks display in the Octagon was when fireworks set fire to a pot plant on the Civic Centre and the fire-brigade had to be called!

What on earth

Hard to figure why the councillor would politically undermine council staff - giving up their public holiday - called on to generate a New Year's party for Dunedin people and their families, within a budget set by councillors. Wrong call, Fizzer Collins. [abridged]

Collins' judgement

Cr Neil Collins' total lack of fiscal responsibility as demonstrated by his voting record underlines his inability to understand a simple concept like the lack of wisdom of spending more than you earn.  All fizz and no substance.[Abridged]

What can we afford

autonomouse: we could afford all those things when we were paying a much lower rates bill. The problem is not just we're paying many times the $66 a year for the stadium that Mr Collins and his compatriots promised we'd have to pay for the stadium, it's that the stadium debt and its servicing has taken over the council's finances, meaning they can't afford to fund their core responsibilities.

Don't forget that the DCC estimates it will need to spend $500m over the next 20 years replacing our aging water reticulation system - some of the 100-year-old pipes are reported to be "the consistency of cardboard" - because of the stadium debt we will not be able to borrow anything like that - huge rates rises for all! [abridged]

Cannon to the right of them

Yes, but 70+ grand up in smoke? Maybe for a special New Year. We have cannon. Make a bang with them. ATC can fire off some rounds, like they once did at the Dawn Service. We miss the smell of cordite in the morning.

It's all about the people

The reason the purse strings are so tight is because of the constant complaints of a few ratepayers regarding increases in their rate account. I for one (and I know I'm not alone) am more than happy to have my cake and eat it too; i.e. I'm happy to contribute towards the stadium and I'd happily see an increase in my rate account to go towards public events/amentities.

Think about it like this, consider the raft of services and facilities at the ratepayer disposal, and the pittance you actually pay for those services e.g. never-ending supply of water to my home, I can flush my toilet at will, I've got access to libraries, museums, art galleries, parks, gardens, swimming pools, buses, the list goes on and on. Our current rate contributions represent excellent value for money.

Green with envy over Orange

Big fireworks were last century: Otago 150th, millenium.

Move on

As someone who moved to Dunedin 12 months ago, I am surprised at the number of times the issue of the stadium being built is raised.

Whether you are a supporter or not, or whether you feel the cost was justified or not, the fact is the thing is here, and we all have no choice but to pay for it. Let's just accept this fact, and work to get this city back on track.

I personally feel that the council performs very poorly, and given that I moved here from Christchurch that is saying something! Council attitude towards citizens seems very strange - little things like how they handle car parking blows me away. And as for suggesting we need to blow up more money as fireworks, when the city is in financial difficulty, that says it all really.

I think there are many things that could be done to help revitalise the city. Let's just get over the fact the stadium is here, and get on with it.


Pathetic isn't the word

I understand that Dunedin doesn't have the budget that Sydney has, but I lived in Orange, country NSW, with a population of 36,000 and the fireworks that were funded by the Council were far superior to Dunedin's pathetic attempt. Orange also had two sessions of fireworks, one at 9pm for the families and then again at midnight.

Come on Dunedin Council grow some, dare to be different. I'm so disappointed with the poor cousin attitude, no wonder the news is so Auckland and Christchurch centric. Spend more you get more.


Cr Collins' comments betray the spendthrift attitude of he and his cohorts. Whilst everyone was happy with the display, his ego saw reason to find fault. Hey Neil, maybe you should put a glass roof over the Octagon - it's so "pathetic and embarrassing" the way it is - whatever will those cruise ship visitors be thinking?!!

No surprises

Rumour has it there were fireworks going off up Mt Cargill (I didn't see them but I did hear them) and the comments I've heard were to the effect that this display was more impressive than the one in town. But we shouldn't be surprised as we all know the state of the city's finances and I guess that's just the way it goes when all the money is wasted on some people's follies.

Fireworks vs pyrotechnic excellence

When I was a very young child I recall going to a set display of fireworks at Tahuna show grounds - it was very well done. Today it seems that a few sparkles in the sky is as much as these pathetic displays will ever get. I sure hope that this council will first take a stand to ban fireworks sales in this city and turn on a pyrotechnic display worthy of the cost -  maybe partial user pays.


Money for essentials not fireworks

I think Mr Collins has totally missed the point. They have been misguided (just being polite there) on what projects they have spent the ratepayers' money on with the consequence of large scale cutbacks being implemented.

Instead of increasing the money to have more fireworks, because (in his opinion) Mr Collins feels the limited amount we had embarrasses our town, we should put that money into infrastructure like roads - which are around a lot longer after the fireworks go poof and are 'seen' by tens of thousands more.

On your bike

Councillor Collins can get lost.  He approved funding consistently for things that the city cannot afford and still refuses to take responsibility for.  The irony is not lost and I look forward to using the phrase "ex-Councillor Collins" in 2013.

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