Pasifika community reacts to sudden loss of Green MP Fa'anana Efeso Collins

Fa'anana Efeso Collins served the Ōtara community with dedication and passion.    

The driving force behind his work was always people so, for them, the news of his death is hard to take.    

"I actually can’t believe it," said Terangi Parima, Community Builders NZ Trust chief executive.    

"I'm still trying to process as we speak. Such an amazing human has gone so suddenly."  Collins may have just become an MP but he was never far from his roots.   

"He was Ōtara hard," said Parima.   

"But he was also South Auckland hard, he was Samoan hard.    

"He was just an amazing vibrant human, both him and his wife and their two beautiful children." 

Collins got things done. When there was a need for a safe space for Toa Samoa rugby league fans to watch the game, he organised a hugely successful event in three days.  

Parima described him as "an absolute doer, he's always been active, he's always been proactive in the community but always a genuine carer for our community as well".   

Collins also didn't shy away from difficult topics.   

"He wasn’t always popular with some people because he would speak his truth and that doesn't always go down well," said friend Fotu Jody Jackson, a Samoan storyteller. "But it was sometimes a wakeup call and the challenge that a lot of people needed, that’s what I’ll miss," she said.     

Gadiel Asiata, who grew up across the road from Collins and is now E tū co-president, said Collins "used to speak on topics where it was quite taboo to speak in but he spoke [the] truth and I admire him for that.    

Collins called Police Ten Seven low level chewing gum TV whose time is up.   

"This is reinforcing the stereotype that brown equals brute, thug and criminal," he said at the time.   

Such forthright comments opened him up to death threats against him and his whole family.      

"Our family has been through so much," he said on Newshub Nation last year.    

"I remember the challenge around the death threats the challenge has been they have to put up with it. We choose to be advocates but it comes at quite a personal cost."     

He also spoke about his faith and his shifting views.   

"About 10 years ago I came out against marriage equality," he said.    

"As my thinking has evolved, I accept that people love in different ways that people are allowed to love the way they choose."   

When COVID-19 threatened the Pasifika community, he was instrumental in empowering his people by driving them to vaccination stations.   

"We haven't done enough and the Ministry of Health will have to rethink its approach," he said at the time.   

Asiata said it's Collins' leadership that will stick with him.   

"A good leader is a leader that built the next one and that's something he used to say to me."   

Collins led by example and inspired the next generation, like law student Shakeel Shamaail.    

"As he's passed away it's a mighty totara that has fallen," Shamaail said. "So, he's now handed over the pou to us young people, people of colour, who have so much to tell but just can't seem to get our foot through the door."   

Number one for Collins was his family.    

"The community has missed a champion, an advocate for them. We’ve lost a matai, a chief and an awesome orator," said Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina. "But number one for him was his family, was Fia and the girls."   

Collins was a father and a husband to be so proud of.