Efeso Collins: New Zealand MP, 49, dies during charity run

A 49-year-old New Zealand parliamentarian died after collapsing while participating in a charity event in central Auckland on Wednesday.

Efeso Collins was participating in the ChildFund Water Run to raise funds to support local communities in the Pacific at 9am in Auckland’s Britomart when he collapsed. He reportedly died at the scene.

Collins, the Green Party MP, had only recently started his new role as a member of parliament.

“Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the Green Party have lost one of the kindest, most dedicated champions of fairness and equality,” Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson said in a statement.

“Efeso devoted his life to serving and making a difference in the lives of those he met, including his constituents, colleagues, friends and family. He held the deepest respect of the members of all political parties and communities,” they said.

Collins is survived by his wife Fia and two daughters.

According to New Zealand’s Stuff, Dave Letele, a fellow community leader, said he and Collins “were just having a laugh” after the race. “Then all of a sudden he just collapsed”.

He added: “One second we were having a laugh, the next second he was gone.”

Mr Letele said the race “wasn’t strenuous. We were just walking around a little track holding buckets of water.

“We had finished the interviews and were just having a laugh. Then all of a sudden he just collapsed.”

Born in Auckland – of Tokelauan and Samoan heritage – he participated actively in student politics and was a fervent supporter of South Auckland. His career in local government spanned nine years, during which he served as a representative for the Labour Party before he made the transition to the Green Party.

It eventually led to his election to parliament in October last year.

Mr Shaw, in his remarks in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, added: “Efeso was joyful, funny, kind and conducted himself quietly, kindly and gracefully. He knew the first step towards change was a golden heart.

“Efeso Collins was a good man... We needed him. Every day that he came to work he carried the expectation of his South Auckland community... he made it look easy, fun, even,”

Collins made his maiden speech just a week ago and said that they must tackle poverty.

“It’s hard to be poor, it’s expensive to be poor, and moreover, public discourse is making it socially unacceptable to be poor,“ he said.

“Many of our societal challenges are driven by poverty. We can achieve greater social cohesion and lift our sense of belonging by addressing poverty.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand prime minister Christopher Luxon also paid his tributes to the 49-year-old parliamentarian.

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

Other New Zealand MPs also paid their condolences to the family. Labour deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni said: “He was ambitious, he wanted to have his voice and the Pacific community’s voice heard. He was never scared to put himself out there, or up there, to be at the helm to be leading the fight.”

Labour leader Chris Hipkins met Collins during his student activism days. He said: “He was very clear in his values. And he was very clear about who he was in public life to serve.”

He noted that Collins had always been a “larger than life character” since their days in student politics, destined for leadership.

Meanwhile, Mr Letele said: “It’s hard to witness when someone dies before your eyes. When things like this happen you really have to value every second you have with your loved ones.”