Leaders of the Assembly of God church in South Auckland say the death of a deacon from Covid-19 has been felt right throughout the church.
The man, in his 50s, died on Wednesday after spending 40 days in Middlemore Hospital's ICU. He had been admitted from home on August 27.
Rebekah Toleafoa, the wife of the pastor and the church's first lady, was visibly emotional when she recalled being called about the deacon's death while helping out with vaccinations at the Vodafone Events Centre.
She described it as a "shock" and said: "My heart is just to get everybody vaccinated."
Toleafoa described the deacon as "dedicated" and a "loving father of five". He had been serving for more than 10 years. He was not vaccinated.
She said it had been "hard" for the church being the largest cluster in the Delta outbreak — 386 members had been affected.
It was very important to have the vaccine, Toleafoa said, because "it's real, this Delta is real".
Church spokesman Jerome Mika said: "It's been pretty hard, 40 days, for him and his wife" — she is also battling the virus in hospital.
"We thank everyone for their patience and we want to get to extended family before we start putting his name out and celebrating who he was as a person."
Danny Leaoasavali said the deacon's children were scrambling with their feelings and emotions.
"The emotions are still raw and that's because when someone passes away, it's felt right throughout the whole church," he said.
"This man passing away in the church means so much because we've worked so hard to try and make sure that we can save all of them.
"It's a very hard time for the church."
The man is the 28th person to have died from coronavirus in New Zealand since the pandemic began.