South Taranaki has new festival of lights to replace fireworks

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Tarin Hunt with one of the paper lanterns that will  light up the lake at King Edward Park in Hāwera during Electra, a new festival event that replacing the former fireworks night.

Catherine Groenestein

Tarin Hunt with one of the paper lanterns that will light up the lake at King Edward Park in Hāwera during Electra, a new festival event that replacing the former fireworks night.

Taranaki’s last council-run annual fireworks display is being replaced with a new event taking place on water rather than in the air.

Elektra, which is themed around lighting and fire, debuts in Hāwera’s King Edward Park on Friday and will see 1000 paper lanterns set afloat on its lake.

The event replaces the annual fireworks display, which South Taranaki District Council last held in 2016 and cancelled the following year after complaints about the noise frightening calves at a farm near the town.

“We were trying to come up with an idea that’s not fireworks, and lighting events are a lot more popular; they’re safer, family-friendly and better for the environment,” tourism and events leader Tarin Hunt said.

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King Edward Park, which is looking its best for the Taranaki Garden Festival, will be lit up as darkness falls.

“We are encouraging families to come down and have a picnic tea – buy it or bring it,” she said.

Three community workshops have been held to build installations for the evening, and 800 paper lanterns have already been taken away by people to be decorated. 

They will each have a lit tea light candle placed inside them before being set out on the lake from 7pm.

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“Imagine 1000 of them on the lake,” she said.

The evening will begin with a circus play zone, where children can learn skills including spinning plates, juggling, hoop and poi.

There will be an area with glow butterflies, another area with a pixie path, and later there will be various performances including graphic poi, from creative entertainment company Highly Flammable, and a kapahaka display.

The free event runs from 6pm to 10pm.

The paper lanterns, which were biodegradable, will be removed from the lake after the festival, Hunt said.

Taranaki has no public fireworks displays for Guy Fawkes, although the crowd at Stratford Speedway will be treated to a display after the November 10 meeting.

 A lack of funding saw the end of New Plymouth’s annual display in 2011, although businessman Allen Juffermans rallied support for one show in 2015 which has not been repeated.

 

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