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Fa’anānā Efeso Collins: Public memorial for late Green MP attracts massive crowds in Auckland

Editor Written by Editor · 4 min read >


Top politicians, former rugby stars and foreign government representatives are all among the many hundreds of mourners gathered to farewell Fa’anānā Efeso Collins at the Due Drop Events Centre in Manukau, South Auckland.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Minister for Pacific Peoples Dr Shane Reti are among the guests, which include Sir Michael Jones, Tama Potaka, Gerry Brownlee, Karen Chhour, Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins, the entire Green Party caucus, including Lawrence Xu-Nan who replaces Collins as an MP, and Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, among other dignitaries.

STORY CONTINUES AFTER THE LIVE BLOG

STORY CONTINUES

One of Samoa’s and the Pacific’s most well-known politicians, La’aulialemalietoa Polataivao Schmidt and his wife Heather Tupea Schmidt, are also among the mourners in Auckland today.

La’aulialemalietoa Polataivao Schmidt told the Herald: “I’m here to honour such a great man – one of the sons of Samoa. He has done a lot to showcase the Samoan people to New Zealanders in the political arena.”

La’auli – who has been in politics for about 25 years – said he had been following Fa’anānā’s political career for many years.

”I knew he was going to go a long way. I knew he was going to make it – I had no doubt when I met him.”

La’auli said he had travelled to New Zealand to be here on behalf of the Samoan people in the motherland and wanted to personally pass on condolences to Fa’anānā’s family.

He said Fa’anānā represented what Pacific and Samoan youth could be if they put in the hard work.

“He’s an encouragement to our people.”

As one of South Auckland’s most loved sons is due to be farewelled, the public celebration of his life is expected to draw in massive crowds.

Members of the public including elderly, children and several school groups are among those attending the celebration of Efeso Collins’ life.

Green Party members arrived wearing green traditional Samoan puletasi (dress) for the women and island shirts for the men.

The Green Party have arrived in green puletasi’s (traditional Samoan attire) making their way through the congregation. Photo / Mary Afemata
The Green Party have arrived in green puletasi’s (traditional Samoan attire) making their way through the congregation. Photo / Mary Afemata

The service is scheduled to start at 1pm, but by 11am there were already long queues to enter the venue, as mourners lined up to pay their respects.

It has been a week since Green Party MP Fa’anānā Efeso Collins, 49, collapsed and died after a ChildFund charity event in downtown Auckland.

 Fa’anānā Efeso Collins will be farewelled today at a public memorial. Photo / Ben Dickens
Fa’anānā Efeso Collins will be farewelled today at a public memorial. Photo / Ben Dickens

Traffic management will be in place in the area until 6pm today.

Auckland Transport is warning motorists that they should expect disruption on a key south Auckland road today due to Efeso Collins’ funeral.It says a lane will be closed on Gt South Rd from 9am – 6pm  between the Southwestern Motorway and Kerrs Rd.The closure and funeral traffic is expected to impact the afternoon peak, warns AT.

It promises to be an emotional service for many, but also one expected to bring lots of laughter and joy from memories and stories shared by family, friends, colleagues and people connected to the late MP over the years.

People gather outside Tipene Funerals where Fa’anānā Efeso Collins has been lying in state. Photo / Ben Dickens
People gather outside Tipene Funerals where Fa’anānā Efeso Collins has been lying in state. Photo / Ben Dickens

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is among the dignitaries attending the service; as well as members of the Green Party, Labour Party, Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, the Samoan High Commissioner to New Zealand, the US consul general, Auckland Council members and community Pacific leaders.

Collins family spokesman Taito Eddie Tuiavii said with large numbers of people anticipated to attend the service, people are encouraged to arrive early.

The memorial service is being held at Due Drop Event Centre in Manukau. Photo / Ben Dickens
The memorial service is being held at Due Drop Event Centre in Manukau. Photo / Ben Dickens

The service – which starts at 1pm – will be livestreamed; with the official livestream hosted on the Tagata Pasifika Plus website, according to the family spokesman and Tīpene Funerals.

There have been warnings throughout the week about fake Facebook profile pages pretending to be livestream links in an attempt to scam people into transferring money to watch.

Green Party MP Fa’anānā Efeso Collins delivers his maiden speech in the House of Representatives on February 15, 2024, less than a week before he died at the ChildFund Water Run in central Auckland.
Green Party MP Fa’anānā Efeso Collins delivers his maiden speech in the House of Representatives on February 15, 2024, less than a week before he died at the ChildFund Water Run in central Auckland.

Traffic management will be in place in various parts of the city, including in and around Onehunga, where Fa’anānā has been lying in state this week.

After the memorial service, the hearse carrying the late MP’s casket will drive through parts of Ōtara – where he grew up – and Ōtāhuhu, where he lived with wife Vasa Fia and their two young daughters, Kaperiela, 11, and 3-year-old Asalemo.

It is understood the late MP will pass a number of his old schools and town centres he frequented.

A police spokesman said they are aware of the proceedings and will be on hand to help, if needed.

“We understand there will be a large number of people in attendance. Police are in contact with family representatives to understand plans to provide advice on any health and safety implications.”

Fa'anānā Efeso Collins pictured with his wife Vasa Fia and their daughters, Asalemo (in dad's arms) and Kaperiela.
Fa’anānā Efeso Collins pictured with his wife Vasa Fia and their daughters, Asalemo (in dad’s arms) and Kaperiela.

MP’s old college adjusts classes in honour of former head boy

Tangaroa College, where Fa’anānā was head boy in 1991, is adjusting its normal school day so members of staff and the wider school community can attend.

In a message posted to the school’s Facebook page, principal Chris Bean acknowledged Fa’anānā’s continued connection to the school, its staff and students.

“Efeso had a love and passion for Tangaroa College and supported us in many initiatives that helped us and our students.

“Efeso never forgot his roots and always gave back. It is important for us to be at this service to honour this man, support his whānau and acknowledge his strong connection to Tangaroa College.”

Students will be allowed to work from home or attend school, as normal, and be supervised by teaching staff staying behind.

ChildFund raises nearly $50,000 in week of MP’s death

Green MP Fa’anānā Efeso Collins died after taking part in the ChildFund Water Run to raise funds to support local communities in the Pacific. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Green MP Fa’anānā Efeso Collins died after taking part in the ChildFund Water Run to raise funds to support local communities in the Pacific. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Meanwhile, the charity that Fa’anānā was helping to raise funds for when he died last week has raised almost $50,000 in donations.

The MP was among a small group of Kiwi celebrities helping to raise funds for ChildFund, which has several projects that aim to provide clean drinking water to children around the Pacific region.

Chief executive Josie Pagani, who is also a friend of Fa’anānā’s, said she had spent the first few days after the event in shock.

“On the day, people were so shocked and looking for some way of expressing their grief and showing support for the causes and the principles and values he represented.

“So people have gone to the ChildFund page and thought: ‘I’ve got to donate something here’. It was amazing.”

A GiveALittle page for Fa’anānā’s two daughters has also been set up and has so far raised almost $25,000.

A private funeral service for the late MP will be held on Friday.

Vaimoana Mase is the Pasifika editor for the Herald’s Talanoa section, sharing stories from the Pacific community. She won junior reporter of the year at the then Qantas Media Awards in 2010 and picked up the best opinion writing award at the 2023 Voyager Media Awards.



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