Near-death in New Zealand: a Brit’s first fireworks party

I’m a Brit. Guy Fawkes night means certain death unless you’ve got a sand bucket for every person and a dozen fire engines on standby.

So, I was a tad shocked to go to my first Kiwi fireworks party and discover things were done a little differently over here.

We merrily greet the hosts, a Kiwi couple who are all generosity and kindness, and pile into the back garden. It’s tiny. There’s barely enough room for a few chairs around the humble bonfire, let alone a fireworks display, so I assume we’re just having drinks.

I assume wrong. As soon as dusk falls, the host grabs the first box on top of a pile that looks like a pyromaniac’s birthday table and begins handing out fireworks like lollypops.

“Wingardium Leviosa!” A guy from Auckland yells, holding a long firework that shoots up a ball of fire into the cloudy sky. Others laugh, and soon there’s a circle of them all bewitching the murky clouds above.

It’s at that moment I realise just how dangerous the world of Harry Potter is. Giving children explosive sticks? Ofsted would have a field day at Hogwarts.

I’m handed a sparkler. “What, no gloves?” My friend from Manchester asks.

From then on, it’s carnage. Catherine Wheels are set under people’s chairs, firecrackers ricochet in the branches above, mini rockets miss the roof –  our host’s motto seems to be: “If there isn’t enough room for explosives, make room. By using explosives.”

I duck inside, and join a group sheltering by the make-shift bar. They’re all English. I’m usually one for mingling and stepping out of one’s comfort zone, but on this occasion, I think I’ll stick to safety in numbers.






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