Rugby fireworks victim paid thousands by NZRU

3:43 pm on 19 August 2015

It has emerged the New Zealand Rugby Union has paid thousands of dollars to a woman who was hit by shrapnel when fireworks exploded at an All Blacks test match.

The fireworks display at Eden Park injured three people.

The fireworks display at Eden Park injured three people. Photo: AFP

Cecilia Wang was one of three people hurt during a Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park almost a year ago.

Waikato company Van Tiel Pyrotechnics was due to be sentenced in the Auckland District Court today after admitting seven charges laid by WorkSafe New Zealand.

The NZRU suspended the use of on-field fireworks displays after the mishap in August last year, and confirmed this morning it has has never used fireworks on the field again since.

Today's sentencing was put off until mid-October, partly because of confusion surrounding reparations paid so far.

The Auckland District Court heard that money stretching into five figures has already been paid to Ms Wang by the NZRU in a confidential settlement.

WorkSafe New Zealand's lawyer said he understood this figure to be $10,000 at least.

It was not clear whether this amount was for emotional harm only, meaning more money could be involved, or whether it includes other reparation components.

"I am of the view that whatever was concluded, it's important that this court knows what it was," Judge Grant Fraser said.

"I'm struggling to see why the NZRU would make a confidential reparation award when in fact it's not their responsibility at all," he later added.

The lawyer for Van Tiel Pyrotechnics said while he did not represent the NZRU, he understood the sports body "took the matter in hand" and "addressed the issue" with Ms Wang and her husband.

The court also heard the NZRU had offered the hurt spectators tickets to another rugby game.

Van Tiel Pyrotechnics' lawyer said the company itself had contributed to reparations "in real terms".

"For me to take into account a payment of reparation, I need to know, I need to know what your client has actually paid... what does real terms mean?" Judge Fraser asked.

The judge said he needed to know if the NZRU had given anything to the other two victims and that it was "completely unsatisfactory" he did not have this information for a sentencing.

Judge Fraser has directed a so-called emotional harm report be filed, and for him to receive more information about reparations.

Van Tiel Pyrotechnics originally faced 18 charges after the incident. Eleven of them were dropped in May when the company pleaded guilty to the seven other charges.

Six of these fall under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, and the other one under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

The company had been setting up displays for the Auckland Blues and All Blacks for more than a decade without any other incidents.

Soon after the fireworks incident, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew profusely apologised to those who were hurt.

The NZRU is still reviewing whether it will use fireworks on the rugby field again and it has not made a decision either way.

The NZRU has confirmed there was a settlement but has not made any further comment.

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