One of two people charged with deliberately causing a fire at a West Auckland supermarket - allegedly a TikTok challenge that went wrong - has denied setting fire to potato chip packets.
Sixty firefighters were sent to the blaze at Countdown in WestCity Waitakere mall, Henderson on May 6.
Michael Haturini, 19, from Weymouth, South Auckland, appeared at Waitākere District Court this morning.
His lawyer said Haturini's friend set fire to the chips in the "chippie aisle" and "he worked independently without any support from him".
"He's not the actual offender that set fire to the chips."
The court heard the pair opened a packet of chips and started eating them before the co-offender allegedly lit the packet with a cigarette lighter.
The blaze caused hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of water, smoke and fire damage according to police, the court heard.
Haturini was granted electronically monitored bail until his next appearance on July 28.
Customers were evacuated after the fire started in the potato chip aisle just before 8.30pm.
"The security went and got the extinguisher and used it. I thought it had gone out but then there was more flames coming up above the shelves," one witness said.
A Countdown staff member told the Herald about online videos where packets of chips were set alight.
The challenge has appeared on social media app TikTok and has resulted in at least one large supermarket fire in the US already.
A 19-year-old and 20-year-old have been jointly charged with intentionally damaging the Countdown by fire, knowing that danger to life was likely to ensue.
The maximum penalty for the category three offence is 14 years' imprisonment.