Waipā Networks puts spotlight on animal welfare this Guy Fawkes

2 November 2023 | News

Waipā Networks is a major sponsor of Waipā’s inaugural Illuminate Light and Sound extravaganza this weekend, 4 November 2023.

“Illuminate” promises to light up the skies at the Mighty River Domain with an awe-inspiring sound and light show. The event is about championing animal welfare during Guy Fawkes, providing a public display of fireworks for families and communities in Waipā to enjoy.

Cambridge Business Chamber CEO Kelly Bouzaid says the free event is a crucial step in the Chamber’s grassroots advocacy with the equine industry regarding animal welfare and the impact of fireworks.

“Set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Karāpiro, Illuminate will provide an educational platform to spread the message that animals and fireworks don’t mix,” says Bouzaid.

“The long-term strategy of the Cambridge Business Chamber is to drive change at the central government level, allowing local government to implement by-law changes regarding the private use of fireworks. We believe there should be a ban on the private use of fireworks in all local public areas. Although we understand that enforcing such a ban may present challenges, it would establish a clear boundary and be a progressive step towards limiting the use of fireworks,” she explains.

It is well-documented that veterinary clinics, SPCA and local councils see animals injured and traumatised by fireworks every year. These include pets, wildlife, and stock, and in and around Cambridge, the equine capital of New Zealand, horses are a considerable concern. Fireworks can cause severe anxiety and stress; in some cases, reported injuries are horrific.

Dr Alison Vaughan, SPCA scientific officer, says she’s pleased to see Cambridge taking the lead, prioritising animal welfare this Guy Fawkes by choosing a light and sound display over fireworks.

She says SPCA has long advocated for a ban on the private sale and use of fireworks, but despite massive support from New Zealanders, the organisation is yet to see a ban implemented.

“While members of the public are restricted to purchasing fireworks on set days, nothing is stopping them from being set off on any day of the year – not just on Guy Fawkes – meaning companion and farmed animal owners must remain vigilant at all times,” she says.

“Sadly, many animals become highly distressed by the loud noises and bright flashes given off by fireworks, which can lead to animals running away, becoming lost, injured or involved in traffic accidents. Animals change their behaviour in response to loud and abrupt noises, and this can lead to physical injury, disruption of feeding, abandonment of young stress and even death,” she explains.

According to a survey of horse guardians in New Zealand, 35% of respondents reported horses breaking through fences in response to fireworks. Dr Vaughan says the study found more than a quarter of respondents reported injuries to their horses.

Illuminate will be an unforgettable, family-friendly event that brings the community together. Bouzaid says it incorporates cutting-edge technology, music provided by DJ Matt Hicks, family entertainment and face painting, delectable food vendors, and a range of exciting attractions.

Funds will be raised for Riding for the Disabled, with Cambridge Riding for the Disabled’s therapy pony, Monty, also scheduled to appear on the night.

“The Chamber is incredibly proud to bring this family-friendly event to Waipā for its inaugural year. This event is the start of making a real difference in the Waipā community. I encourage everyone to think about the animals in our district – don’t let off fireworks at home or around the community – come and enjoy this amazing event!”