More than a year ago Central Kids Kindergarten Rotorua East was devastated by flooding.

Staff at the kindergarten originally thought the building would be out of use for three months but 13 months later they have only just been able to return.

Just before Christmas in 2017, after an overnight deluge, the staff went to work in the morning to find 20cm of floodwaters in the building.

Joseph Sands, 4, (left) and Oliver Morrison, 4, are happy to be back in the kindergarten. Photo / Stephen Parker
Joseph Sands, 4, (left) and Oliver Morrison, 4, are happy to be back in the kindergarten. Photo / Stephen Parker

Inside the Alistair Ave building, a mark on the wall showed how high the water had been.

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It was inside the oven and fridge, rubbish bins had moved from one side of the room to the other and sewage had come up from the toilets and spilled on to the floor.

"It was devastating," head teacher Barb Stone said.

"Three-quarters of our equipment had to go in the bin because it was grey water. It was devastating because it looked fine but it was contaminated. The building had to be gutted, stripped down to the bare walls and rebuilt.

Central Kids Kindergarten Rotorua East head teacher Barbara Stone. Photo / Stephen Parker
Central Kids Kindergarten Rotorua East head teacher Barbara Stone. Photo / Stephen Parker

"We threw play equipment out, we threw tables out, chairs, anything that was wet had to go in the bin."

Most of the damage was covered by insurance but the kindergarten also applied for grants to cover some things. The rebuild cost about $700,000.

"It was well over budget because we kept finding more stuff that needed to be fixed."

The kindergarten had to be rebuilt following the flooding. Photo / File
The kindergarten had to be rebuilt following the flooding. Photo / File

As part of the rebuild, changes have been made to the layout to try and prevent future flooding.

During the closure, the centre's 40 children were relocated to two classrooms in Lynmore Primary School.

Stone said the school had opened its doors to the children and it had a good effect on learning, marketing and helping the children transition to school.

Flooding in December 2017. Photo / File
Flooding in December 2017. Photo / File

The kindergarten's official reopening and blessing is next Friday at 9.30am.

"It will be a blessing and a celebration of the year that we've been through, it's starting a new chapter."

As part of the opening, kindergarten staff are looking for people in a photograph taken when the kindergarten was first opened in the 1970s.

The kindergarten is looking for the children pictured in this photo, taken in the 1970s.
The kindergarten is looking for the children pictured in this photo, taken in the 1970s.

"We'd like to find out who they are, do they want to come to the opening.

"It's amazing how many people walk in and say they used to come here."

The kindergarten will continue to fundraise and apply for grants for finishing touches on the centre.

The kindergarten closed in December 2017. Photo / File
The kindergarten closed in December 2017. Photo / File