‘A man of the people’: MPs pay tribute to Fa’anānā Efeso Collins

MPs have paid tribute to Fa’anānā Efeso Collins in Parliament today, two months after his death.

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

The MPs reflected on the impact Fa’anānā had in Parliament, in his Pacific and South Auckland communities, and their long friendships with him, some spanning 30 years.

Green Party Teanau Tuiono remembered Fa’anānā’s sense of humour, and said his commitment to his communities was steadfast.

National Party minister Shane Reti said the void Fa’anānā has left was still deeply felt in Parliament and nationwide, particularly in Ōtara.

“Fa’anānā Efeso Collins was very much a man of the people” and “a proud son of the Pacific”.

His death felt like a sudden stop to a political career that was already gaining momentum, he said.

Fa’anānā had an unwavering belief in the potential of Pacific communities and Reti said he would seek to honour this as the Minister for Pacific Peoples.

Chris Hipkins remembered Fa’anānā by quoting him.

Hipkins recalled that when asked by RNZ what he wanted for Christmas, Fa’anānā said: “My hope for the community is that we as a nation settle on some basics, that every child will wake up and know that they’ve got three meals every day, that they’ve got somewhere safe and warm to sleep at night.”

Hipkins said: “I know that that is what he dedicated his life to”.

Labour’s Barbara Edmonds had tears in her eyes as she honoured Fa’anānā as “the ancestor we always knew he was”.

Edmonds said together they will continue the work of “our brother, our ancestor”.

Efeso Collins being sworn in as a Member of Parliament, 5 December 2023.

“Proud, brave and brilliant” was how Willie Jackson said he would sum up Fa’anānā.

He spoke on behalf of the Māori caucus.

“It’s not easy to call out racism and Efeso called out racism all the time.”

Jackson said sometimes he had to remind Fa’anānā he was a Labour Party councillor because Fa’anānā would ask ‘What about my conscious, what if it’s wrong?’.

“He was one for the generation, one of the greatest of the generation,” Jackson said.

“We loved him very much.”

National’s Erika Stanford said Fa’anānā was born to be on stage with either a microphone or a megaphone “but the thing is, when you met him, you wouldn’t know about that because he was a listener”.

In response to Jackson, Stanford said “I think we got played” because Fa’anānā knew he had to play the game and be really well connected with all parties to advance things for his communities.

He would be missed, she said.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi delivered his mihi in te reo Māori.

ACT MP Simon Court said Fa’anānā’s life was a testament to the values of peace, love and service.

Jenny Marcroft spoke on behalf of NZ First and took time to speak directly to Fa’anānā’s daughters and spoke more broadly of the impact of grief.

“Take care of each other, keep your daddy’s memories alive.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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