Man arrested after rainbow pedestrian crossing in Auckland vandalised

A man has been arrested and charged for vandalising Auckland's iconic rainbow pedestrian crossing last month.

In late March the rainbow cross on Karangahape Road was covered in white paint. Police launched an investigation saying they were considering it a hate crime.

On Friday, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Allan, Auckland City CIB, said a 31-year-old has been arrested.

"As a result of our enquiries, a 31-year-old Auckland man was arrested on Wednesday evening.

"He has since been charged in relation to this incident and is due to appear in the Auckland District Court on Monday 15 April 2024.

"While this matter is now before the Court, and we are limited in further comment, the investigation remains ongoing."

Senior Sergeant Allan thanked the public for information which helped them identify the man. 

"We have received several reports of information to date, which were vital in us making this arrest," he said. 

Police also want the public to come forward if they have information that could identify three other people believed to be involved.

"At this stage, the vehicle of interest has also not yet been located and we are continuing to make enquiries."

Police ask anyone with information on the matter to call them on 105 or going online here and referencing file number 240328/6111. People can also call Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The rainbow crossing on Karangahape Rd after it was vandalised.
The rainbow crossing on Karangahape Rd after it was vandalised. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Karangahape Rd vandalism came after protesters painted over Gisborne's rainbow crossing in late March, for which three people were charged with vandalism.

The group in Gisborne, linked to 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 Karangahape Rd vandalism and said it appears to be a copycat of the Gisborne protest. 

The vandalism was met with criticism across the board.

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."

Three people were arrested in Gisborne and charged with vandalism after its rainbow crossing was painted.
Three people were arrested in Gisborne and charged with vandalism after its rainbow crossing was painted. Photo credit: Newshub.

Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick told Newshub it was "sad and bizarre", but the behaviour didn't appear from thin air.

"There's been quite a whirlwind of imported misinformation and hate towards our rainbow communities," Swarbrick said.

"I mean, what compels an alleged 31-year-old man to paint over a pride flag. Pretty sad."

Auckland Pride last week called for a community-led restorative justice approach, rather than harsh court punishments.

And Swarbrick agreed, telling Newshub she saw no benefit in prosecuting the alleged Karangahape Rd vandal.

Instead, she said it's better "to extend the olive branch and try to grow a sense of understanding" of where their views come from.

"Because the question that I would love to ask is… what is it that they are so afraid of?"

She said the goal is to grow understanding and community connections so things like road painting vandalism don't happen.

"If people who hold these views feel as though they're under attack… the dialogue only becomes more polarised and nobody benefits from that," she said.

"And ultimately, the hope is I guess that this person, these alleged perpetrators realise that the rainbow community is in fact fabulous and nothing to be afraid of."

Bhenjamin Goodsir, co-chair of Auckland Pride, said last week the organisation was ready and willing to work with those responsible for the vandalism.