Efeso Collins . . . ’empowering our rangatahi to think beyond the lines’

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Fa'anānā Efeso Collins with fire dancer Emillie Lovett-Pritchard at Auckland's Ethnic Communities Festival in 2022. Image: Nik Naidu/Whānau Hub

By Lucy Xia, RNZ News reporter

The family of Green MP Fa’anānā Efeso Collins say they are “devastated” at his loss and have thanked the public for their patience during a “difficult time”.

Fa’anānā, 49, collapsed and died during a charity event in the Auckland CBD on Wednesday.

In their first statement since his death, his aiga — which includes wife Fia and daughters Kaperiela and Asalemo — said he was “the anchor of our tight-knit family”.

“Anyone who knew Efeso, knew that his daughters were at the heart of everything he did. They were his inspiration and drive,” they said.

Details about the funeral were expected to be announced on Friday, the family said.

Meanwhile, a notice posted by Tipene Funerals said it was with “heavy hearts” that the family announced Fa’anānā’s death.

He was a “dear husband, son, brother, uncle and loving father”, the notice said.

“Words cannot express our gratitude for all the messages of love, support and comfort received since Fa’anānā was called to rest. Thank you for your prayers and wrapping us firmly in your love as we navigate through this difficult time.

“We respectfully ask for privacy and your patience as we come to terms with the loss and prepare the final celebration of his life.”

Auckland mayoral race Efeso Collins
Fa’anānā Efeso Collins . . . his family “respectfully ask for privacy and your patience”. Image: Fa’anānā Efeso Collins/RNZ

An inspiration for young people
Fa’anānā was remembered as warm, kind and an inspiration for Māori and Pasifika communities — particularly rangatahi.

Community members said he left an enduring legacy for his South Auckland community, where he served three terms on the local board and as ward councillor before giving his maiden speech in Parliament just a week ago.

22-year-old university student Winiata Walker said he saw Fa'anānā Efeso Collins as a role model.
University student Winiata Walker, 22 . . . saw Fa’anānā Efeso Collins as a role model. Image: Lucy Xia/RNZ

In Ōtara, where Fa’anānā was born, raised and served his community, his loss was deeply felt.

University student Winiata Walker, who volunteered his time teaching music to kids in Ōtara, said Fa’anānā was always a role model.

“Such a humble man, and from South Auckland to Parliament, that’s such a big step for South Auckland.”

Walker said Fa’anānā’s death was a big loss for the communities that relied on him to have their voices heard.

“As our community we have to fight harder, because he was the change, he was someone we could look up to for change for our community. But since he passed away, I think we have to work together more and work harder for progress.”

A valuable mentor
Twenty-five-year-old Terangi Parima, who ran the Ōtara youth hub and Ōtara Kai Village, said Fa’anānā was a valuable mentor for rangatahi.

Terangi Parima who runs the Otara Kai Village and Otara youth hub said she will always remember how Fa'anana encouraged youth to become leaders.
Terangi Parima, who runs the Otara Kai Village and Otara youth hub, . . . she will always remember how Fa’anana encouraged youth to become leaders. Image: RNZ/Lucy Xia

“Empowering our rangatahi to see themselves in spaces that he sat in, empowering our rangatahi to think beyond the lines that have been drawn out for us . . .  he’s a legend, an absolute legend.”

Parima said she will always remember how he encouraged youth to consider becoming leaders.

“He actually was a significant part in supporting our rangatahi, our youngest rangatahi who ever went for a local board role, to actually step into those spaces, and encourage her.”

Parima said it made a difference to have someone like Fa’anānā, who had been through disadvantaged communities like Ōtara, to be in Parliament.

She said he bridged the gaps between political spaces and communities.

Group pay respects where Efeso Collins died - singing waiata led by Dave Letle
A group pay respects where Efeso Collins died . . . singing a waiata led by Dave Letle. Image: RNZ/Finn Blackwell

Parima said Fa’anānā departed in a way that embodied what he stood for.

“He literally passed away [doing] exactly what he’s always done, and what he loves, and that’s serving his community and being purposeful.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

Asia Pacific Report recalls how Fa’anānā Efeso Collins was inspirational with a range of local ethnic communities, including being a special guest at Auckland’s Ethnic Communities Festival in 2022. He also supported local body ethnic election teams with his mahi with the Whānau Community Hub and Centre.

The Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group's Rachael Mario with Fa'anānā Efeso Collins
The Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group’s Rachael Mario with Fa’anānā Efeso Collins at the Whānau Hub. Image: Nik Naidu/Whānau Hub
Guest of honour Fa'anānā Efeso Collins at Auckland's Ethnic Communities Festival
Guest of honour Fa’anānā Efeso Collins at Auckland’s Ethnic Communities Festival in Mt Roskill in 2022. Image: Nik Naidu/Whānau Hub
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