Aupito William Sio pays tribute to Fa'anānā Efeso Collins, says his death is 'devastating blow'

The death of Fa'anānā Efeso Collins is a "devastating blow" and a "sense of sadness has overwhelmed" the country, says former minister Aupito William Sio.  

Tributes are continuing to pour in for Collins, who's being remembered as a family man and beacon of his community. 

The Green MP collapsed at a charity event on Wednesday and died aged just 49. 

He leaves behind his wife and two young daughters but the impact he had is clear, with tributes flowing from MPs and community leaders past and present. 

Fa'anānā Efeso Collins died on Wednesday aged 49.
Fa'anānā Efeso Collins died on Wednesday aged 49. Photo credit: Newshub

Sio told Newshub Late on Wednesday evening the news really hit him when he found out. 

"It's just sort of this sadness just overwhelmed us. Devastating blow I would say when I first heard the news this morning," he said.  

"I had heard it before it actually went out in the public media and the first thing I thought was I hope Fia, his wife, that somebody reaches out to them before it breaks in the media because they have young children." 

Once the news was made public, Sio says it forced people to stop and chat and reflect.  

"It's so devastating given he had just given his maiden speech last week and there was so much hope, so much aspiration in the way he delivered it," Sio told Newshub Late host Rebecca Wright.  

"I suspect the younger generation that follows him were probably feeling really inspired and full of hope for the future."  

Sio remembers the impact Collins had bursting onto the scene as a councillor when the Super City was being discussed, saying he was outspoken in a very powerful way.  

"My memory of that was he just started calling out racism and discrimination in a very confronting way," he recalled. 

"It forced all of us to sit up and think about how we were treating one another and whether the systems that we've been operating under for such a long time were in fact racist and in certain respects, he opened the door for a lot of our young people to turn out and call it that." 

Former Minister Aupito William Sio pays tribute to Efeso Collins.
Former Minister Aupito William Sio pays tribute to Efeso Collins. Photo credit: Newshub

A condolence book has been set up at Parliament for Collins and will be available to sign from Thursday. Flowers have also been placed by the public on Parliament's steps.  

Parliament is adjourned until next week out of respect. 

Newshub political editor Jenna Lynch told AM on Thursday morning the halls of Parliament have been extremely quiet since his death. 

"This building is loud, it's loud all the time, it has grand halls that echo everywhere. It's filled with boisterous people who use words as their weapons but yesterday it just fell silent. Across the House, every one was filled with grief," Lynch said.   

She told AM many party members were still in shock a day after the news. 

"His maiden speech was last week and it will now serve as his farewell speech and what an impressive speech it was," Lynch said.  

"Speaking of the struggles his community faced and his purpose for being here. A lot of people, the Prime Minister included, said they looked at him as someone who was going to have a long career in Parliament. He was only just getting started in this place."

Watch the full interview above.