Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Politician remembered as strong community advocate

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Efeso Collins took part in an Auckland mayoral candidates’ forum in Howick in July, 2022. Times file photo Wayne Martin

A mayoral candidate who visited east Auckland as part of his campaign in 2022 is being remembered as a strong advocate for his community and as someone who was empathetic and honest.

Green Party MP and former Auckland councillor Efeso Collins died while participating in a charity event in Downtown Auckland on February 21.

The father-of-two was attending a fundraiser for ChildFund Water Run at Britomart when he collapsed.

Collins was the former chairperson of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board and a Manukau ward councillor.

He contested the Auckland mayoralty at the 2022 local-body elections, finishing second behind winner Wayne Brown.

Collins, 49, was elected to Parliament as a Greens List MP at last year’s general election.

The Times spoke to him following his participation in a mayoral candidates’ forum in Howick in July, 2022.

He said if he was elected the city would get a “visionary mayor, but they will also get a mayor who really cares about the community, who’s interested in listening to people’s voices, who’s courageous and who’s inclusive”.

“I will make sure every part of the community has a voice whether you’re part of the Rainbow community or whether you live in Howick or Titirangi or Greenhithe.

“You’re going to have a voice and I’m going to make myself available to people.”

Collins grew up in South Auckland with a father who was a church minister and taxi driver and a mother who worked as a cleaner at Middlemore Hospital.

He said his parents’ strong work ethic was instilled in him and if he won the mayoral race he’d work hard to get things done for Auckland.

His family fully supported his campaign for the mayoralty, he said.

Collins told the Times he was married to a “beautiful Samoan woman” with whom he had two daughters.

“My daughter often talks to me about climate change and making sure we’re eating better, we’re catching the bus and we’re walking and I think it’s that influence that’s giving me a real sense of direction and purpose because it’s about them.”

Following Collins’ death, Greens co-leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw said they were “absolutely devastated”.

“A beautiful family has lost a dedicated father, husband, and community leader.

“Aotearoa and the Green Party have lost one of the kindest, most dedicated champions of fairness and equality.

“Efeso devoted his life to serving and making a difference to the lives of those he met, including his constituents, colleagues, friends, and family.

“We will miss Efeso dearly, but celebrate with gratitude the contribution he has made to Aotearoa.”

Prime Minister and Botany MP Christopher Luxon also expressed his shock and sadness at the news of Collins’ death.

“Efeso was a good man, always friendly and kind, and a true champion and advocate for his Samoan and South Auckland communities,” he said.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go to his family, his community and colleagues.”

Collins’ funeral is to be held in Manukau on February 29.

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