A teenager accused of burning down a family home on Christmas Day has spoken for the first time.
Dylan Theodore, a 17-year-old fa'afafine, told the Herald on Sunday he had a secret friendship with someone at the house in Coburg St, Henderson.
However, he said, the family did not approve of their relationship so, for the past year, he had been sneaking up to the house.
Theodore would let his friend know he had arrived by lighting a match or lighter through a small hole in the garage.
"It was a usual thing. Most nights I would light so many matches but that night it was just one that destroyed their lives and mine," Theodore said.
"I couldn't go through the garage door because they have dogs, so I couldn't call out or knock."
At 2.30am on Christmas Day, Theodore accidentally dropped the match inside the garage.
"When I got to the park, I heard some screaming and when I turned around there was a big fire. At that point I thought someone was trapped in there."
Theodore said he dropped to his knees to pray the family-of-eight wasn't hurt. He said there was no malicious intent and he did not want to harm his friend or the family.
"It's really hard. I have taken someone's home away from them. I think about it all the time and feel sorry for them.
"If I knew the fire was going to light, I would have ran in and put it out myself knowing the consequences of the dogs biting me or the family coming out. I would have put the fire out."
His friend, who the Herald on Sunday has chosen not to name, said they were no longer talking but the friend supported Theodore.
"I know his intentions were not to try hurt me or my family," the friend said.
"I have his support big time. I even wrote a letter to the judge."
The friend said the incident had ruined his relationship with his family who were still homeless.
Theodore spent most of Christmas Day at the police station and was released the next morning.
He was charged with recklessly damaging a house and is due to appear in Waitakere District Court in April.By Chloe Johnson @BackpackJourno Email Chloe