Rainbow crossing on Auckland's Karangahape Road vandalised, police share photos of suspects

Police are treating the vandalism of an Auckland rainbow crossing as a hate crime as they continue to search for the offender.

Officers have executed a search warrant after a rainbow crossing on Auckland's Karangahape Rd, known as K Road, was painted white on Thursday.

In a statement, Auckland City Central Area Commander Inspector Grant Tetzlaff said a report of wilful damage was reported to police around 3:20am.

Police said enquiries into the incident took place on Thursday afternoon, and "a number of items" of interest have since been located and seized.

"Police have today executed a search warrant at a property in Flat Bush following a report of vandalism on the rainbow pedestrian crossing on Karangahape Road this morning," a statement read.

The Flat Bush address is believed to be linked to the owners of the registered vehicle involved in the crime, police said. However, officers have yet to locate the vehicle.

"We are calling on those responsible for this incident to come forward and speak with us," Insp Tetzlaff said.

"We are aware of the hurt and confusion from the community at what has occurred and we want to reassure the public we are committed to holding those involved to account.

"Police have no tolerance for reports of this nature, which appear to directly target a particular sector of our diverse community, and we are treating this as a hate crime.”

Photos of the suspects involved have been released and police are encouraging anyone with information to come forward.

A suspect in the vandalism.
A suspect in the vandalism. Photo credit: NZ Police

"A group of three people have poured paint on the rainbow crossing before leaving the area in a vehicle. The vehicle had the registration plates removed and the persons had their faces concealed." 

Police have released images from CCTV footage, including the vehicle, with the hopes of identifying those responsible to hold them to account.

"The vehicle is a distinctive, high gloss grey or white colour, with black roof racks and mag wheels," inspector Tetzlaff said.

A photo of the vehicle.
A photo of the vehicle. Photo credit: NZ Police

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 105, quoting file number 240328/6111. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

The vandalism comes after protesters painted over Gisborne's rainbow crossing on Monday night.

Rainbow crossing on Auckland's Karangahape Road vandalised, police share photos of suspects

The protest group in Gisborne, linked with Destiny Church, were protesting a drag reading event at the city's library.

The damage has since been painted over.

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki told Newshub he doesn't know who is responsible for the K Road vandalism and said it appears to be a copycat of the Gisborne protest. 

Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick told Newshub that "it's sad and bizarre some people are spending their energy suppressing simple symbols of the visibility and pride of our - my - rainbow community". 

"You can’t paint over our existence. Love always wins," she said.

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown was also among those sharing his upset at the crime.

"This is disgraceful. I've got no time for intolerance of people's differences," he said.

"Plus, this is just another form of graffiti on other people's property that we will need to spend money fixing – which I hate."

Newshub spoke to passersby in the area on Thursday morning.

"I was pretty horrified to show up on K Road and be met with someone trying to cover up the proud queer pride that we've got here... the audacity," Bones Dreadon said.

"They obviously came here in the middle of the night as cowards, tried to do maybe a 10-minute job and every car that has passed here has taken off their work every time they've gone past.

"It's a waste of time, they've really just given us publicity, and showed that the queer community is going to come together and show how stupid and how much of waste of their effort is."

They said K Road was always going to be a queer-friendly, safe place for the community.

"Feeling safe on K Road is definitely a privilege, being queer and having our safe space so having that challenged this morning was definitely not something I prepared for when I woke up."

Dreadon said the crime has the community coming together.

"We'll show love when hate comes towards us," they said.

"People are talking about how much they dislike it, I've seen people from lots of different communities come together and agree on how horrible this is."

Police shared photos of suspects.
Police shared photos of suspects. Photo credit: NZ Police

They also slammed the suspects, pictured hiding their faces, as cowards.

"If you're gonna do it, show your face? Stand up and accept that you do it, don't be a coward.

"If you actually want to stand up and say it. Do it to our face, don't do it in the middle of the night so we can see it on a little security camera. Waste of your time."

Another man, who was enjoying a coffee in the area, said it was "pretty lame".

"Disturbing, and just not cool," he told Newshub.

"Disappointing, just, why do this? And now the city is going to have to pay to clean this up which is lame."

Another man said: "I think it's pretty crap actually".

Meanwhile, a woman said it was "sad", especially following what happened in Gisborne.

"There's just no need for it. Yeah, it's just sad to see," she said.

Mark Banfield, AT’s Group Manager Infrastructure Project Delivery, said he was "saddened and disappointed" by the vandalism.

"This appalling act of vandalism happened at about 3:20am and we have done our best to minimise the damage. The crossing is an important part of the street that celebrates the rainbow community and AT is committed to restoring it as soon as possible."

AM viewers also wrote in angry at the white-out.

"I couldn't give a rats ass whether someone's gay or lesbian or whatever as long as they're happy, so why in 2024 is this still happening – attacking the rainbow community just makes me mad," one person said.

White paint could be seen smeared across the road as traffic drove by on Thursday morning.