All maunga in Auckland closed following Guy Fawkes fires

By Jessica Tyson

Two fires at maunga in Auckland last night have prompted the Tūpuna Maunga Authority to close public access to all maunga in the city at Guy Fawkes while fireworks are still available for public sale. 

Fire and Emergency spokesperson Colin Underdown confirmed the fires at Maungarei in Mt Wellington and Maungawhau in Mt Eden were started by fireworks.

Chair of the authority Paul Majurey says they are are "the last straw".

"Fireworks have been banned on the 14 maunga administered by the authority since it established in 2014 following the landmark Tāmaki Collective Treaty settlement. However, since then there have been repeated fires on the maunga at Guy Fawkes as a result of some members of the public who are unable to resist placing personal fun over public safety, says Majurey.

"These fires are serious - they cause significant harm to these iconic taonga and pose a real risk to people and property."  

Each year at Guy Fawkes, the authority places signage on the maunga making the fireworks ban clear to all visitors. Security staff patrol the maunga at Guy Fawkes and if people are seen with fireworks, they are asked to remove them.

The authority also works with Fire 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. 

Fire and Emergency also have unrestricted access to the tihi (summits) of the maunga via an access code to entrance gates.

"The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has responsibilities under health and safety legislation to ensure the safety of visitors to the maunga. Having tried to work proactively with the public to care for the Maunga, sadly last night's fires show more protections are required," says Majurey.  

The fires

Firefighters were called to the fires at both maunga around 11pm on Tuesday.

A total of seven crews were called to Maungarei to battle the 50 by 50m blaze, while five crews attended the fire at Maungawhau.

Both fires had been extinguished by 2am on Wednesday. 

Underdown says an investigation is being conducted into who started the fires.