Diane Robinson is an author of mystery fiction, an accountant, and member of Ōrākei Baptist Church in Auckland City.

Well, strictly speaking, we didn’t so much open a sauna as walk into one. On the 29th of December, Debra felt a ‘nudge’ to check something out at the church building. It could have waited till Sunday, but ‘something’ made her go that Friday. She stepped into a sauna. Steam filled the air, and water flowed across the floors. 

When Debra rang Diane to ask if she knew where to turn off the water main, Diane suggested bringing some old towels to soak up the water. Debra replied, “We’re way past that; we’re going to need pumps.”

Further inspection revealed that the hot water pipe under the basin in the ladies’ restroom had burst. Ironically, this metal weave flexible pipe was the newest plumbing in the building. It was only five years old. The hole in the pipe was the size of a $1 coin. 5cm of water sat on the restroom floor. The utility bills show the leak starting two days earlier. During that time, the water spread around half of the upstairs area.

Unable to get hold of anyone at the Baptist Insurance Fund or the Baptist National Support Centre, Diane and Debra tracked down a plumber and a flood recovery company. Their moisture detectors revealed the water had soaked through the stairs and spread over half the downstairs area. Diane says, “When I thought we were ‘only’ dealing with the upstairs area, I was stoic. We’ve got a problem; now we need to solve it. When I realised the water had spread into the tenant’s downstairs storage cupboards and the youth area, my heart sank.”

It took many days of fans and dehumidifiers to dry out the affected areas. The bill for that was $30k; add to that the carpet and so on, and you have to say, “Thank goodness for insurance.”

‘Normal service’ for the three congregations using the building resumed the second weekend in February. The church and insurers are still working through the damaged doors and so on.

For some years, the church has had an outreach to children and teenagers in the immediate area. Due to the church’s location, over 90% of the young people are connected to the local marae, which is on the same street as the church. The youth had held meetings sitting or lying on cushions on the downstairs floor. The cushions didn’t so much float as sink in the flood. Some congregation members have managed to turn old curtains into cushion covers. While we couldn’t offer our normal after-school program for several weeks, the youth could meet at Okahu Bay.

It was certainly ‘hot and steamy’ in the building for a while, but all church activities are slowly getting back to ‘normal’.

Photos: The Welcome sign for Ōrākei Baptist Church services which have all resumed and a Youth meeting at the beach. Supplied by Diane Robinson.

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