22 Feb 2024

Efeso Collins remembered as voice for his people

10:06 am on 22 February 2024
Fa'anānā Efeso Collins taking a picture to send to his mum on induction week. "My mum couldn't stop crying and how deeply moved she was that her son was able to get to that place to speak for her," Fa'anānā said.

Fa'anānā Efeso Collins has been celebrated as a voice for his community who went out of his way to encourage young leaders Photo: Supplied/ Fa'anānā Efeso Collins

Green MP Fa'anānā Efeso Collins was relentless in wanting better for his community and his mahi had a wide impact, fellow Samoan leaders say.

The 49-year-old Green MP and former Manukau Ward councillor died suddenly on Wednesday during a charity event in Auckland.

Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina said his former colleague was focused on the good of the community and if Fa'anānā saw something he thought would negatively affect people he would speak up.

Filipaina said Fa'anānā helped unite the South Auckland community.

Manukau Ward councillor Alf Filipaina.

Alf Filipaina Photo: RNZ / Mata

"He had no problems, no issues about standing up and against the trend. He went his way, but that way was always about representing the community.

Fa'anānā frequently went in to bat on issues such as helping students who were struggling to afford public transport to get to school, or assisting during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

His death would send shockwaves through the Pasifika community and leave a leadership void, Filipaina said.

"We've lost a chief ... his Samoan title was a sitting down chief title, but that's one thing that Efeso didn't do, he just never sat down. He was there advocating all the time for our community... and not just Pasifika. He's an awesome orator.

"We are going to miss the opportunity of seeing him make a difference in Parliament. He was just loving the fact that he was there. Just in the short time that he's been there, the impact that he's had... "

Fa'anānā was a leader who inspired others to create their own legacy, long-time friend Lotu Fuli told Morning Report, and he always took time to support Māori and Pasifika leaders coming through.

From his childhood Fa'anānā had an interest in the issues that were affecting people. He spoke at church rallies before becoming a teenager, was on the student council at Tangaroa College, and became the first Pasifika student president of the Auckland University Student Association.

Lotu Fuli

Lotu Fuli Photo: RNZ / Sara Vui-Talitu

"From a young age he was just so intelligent, not many nine or ten year olds are interested in politics and interested in what's going on in the world overseas ... but Efeso was," Fuli said.

"I've been privileged to see him grow into a leader in our community in Ōtara and then in Manukau and Auckland Council and then in Parliament just last week.

"He used to say that the mark of a good leader was their ability to build up the next leaders coming through and he absolutely did that. He was the kind of leader who always inspired you and encouraged you.

"He leaves a huge huge hole in our community, but I think we can honour him by following his example and living a life of service and doing everything that we can to serve our people and to fight for those [more] vulnerable than us.

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