Eastern Bay of Plenty Detectives have today arrested a man in relation to the arson of Apanui Primary School in Whakatāne.
The fire occurred in the early hours of February 6 2021 and destroyed the office block and eight attached classrooms.
A 22-year-old man was arrested in Tauranga this morning and is due to appear in the Whakatāne District Court tomorrow facing charges of arson and burglary, and a further charge of aggravated robbery arising from an unrelated incident.
Area Manager Investigations, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Wilson says “this offence was one that hurt the whole community, who felt a connection to their local primary school in a small town".
In February Apanui School Principal Simon Akroyd said he and the entire school community has been shocked and saddened by the fire.
Classes for Apanui School’s 410 primary students took place at the Whakatane War Memorial Hall so the school grounds can be cleared, investigations can take place, and services such as power, water and fibre could be reinstalled.
"I’m proud of the dedication displayed by the investigation team in persevering over many months to hold the person responsible to account," says Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Wilson.
As this matter is now before the court, Police are unable to comment further.
Apanui School in Whakatane has lost a complete block of classrooms due to the fire. Photo: Supplied.
He whakarau mō te tahu whare i tētahi kura i Whakatāne
I tēnei rangi, kua whakarau ngā Kairapuhara o te rāwhiti o Te Moana a Toi i tētahi tāngata mō te mahi tahu whare o te kura tuatahi o Apanui i Whakatāne.
I tahuna te whare i te atapō i te 6 Pepuere 2021, ā, i whakamōtītī te whare tari me ngā akomanga e waru e hono ana ki te whare tari.
I whakarautia tētahi tāne i Tauranga 22 te pakeke i te ata nei, ā, ka tū ki te Kōti Ā-Rohe o Whakatāne hei āpōpō, mō te hāmene o te tahu whare me te tāhae, me tētahi atu hāmene mō te whānako hupe i ara mai i tūāhua kē atu.
Hei tā Kairapuhara Haihana Karauna Paul Wilson, kaiwhakahaere i ngā tūhura ā-rohe o Waiariki ki te rāwhiti “ ka ngau tēnei hara ki te hapori katoa, rātou e whai pānga anaki te kura tuatahi i tētahi tāone iti.
Kei te whakahīhī ahau ki te kaha ū a te tīma tūhura i tā rātou ngākau titikaha i ēnei marama ki te whakahere i te tangata ki āna i mahi nei.”
I te mea kei mua i te kōti tēnei take, kāore e taea te kōrero.
Firemen extinguishing the fire at Apanui School. Photo: Supplied.