A firefighter dampened the destroyed building. Photo/Emma Houpt
Two local men have been arrested in connection with a fire at the building used by Tauranga’s Rainbow and Gender Diverse Youth Community last month.
The men, aged 29 and 33, have been charged with arson and are due to appear in Tauranga District Court today.
The fire caused extensive damage to a building on the property.
The historic village building was shared by Gender Dynamix, an organization that meets the needs of the gender-diverse community, and Rainbow Youth, who use it as a drop-in centre.
The Tauranga building was a drop-in center for young people organizing social groups, community events and offering individual support.
Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident, but investigations are ongoing.
The fire broke out around 12:30 p.m. on June 16 and destroyed one of 60 buildings in the historic village of Tauranga.
Three fire apparatus from Tauranga and one from Greerton were present.
A rally was held in the village on the day of the fire where people came out to support those affected.
Gender Dynamix board chair Maddie Stubbins initially told the Bay of Plenty Times that she was ‘devastated’ by the fire, but the organization’s operations would continue ‘as usual’. “.
Rainbow Youth executive director Pooja Subramanian said there was “a lot of devastation” among staff, volunteers and the wider community.
Tauranga City Council venues and events manager Nelita Byrne previously said demolition of the building would begin and work would begin on the site to clean up the remains of the building and ensure site security.
She said it was “still too early” to comment on what might be built in the future.
“We have found an interim space for them to use while we work out longer-term relocation options in The Village.”
The fire has sparked an outpouring of grief and donations for Tauranga’s LGBTQIA+ community, with a Givealittle for Rainbow Youth raising over $82,000 to date.