Pacific | Fa'anānā Efeso Collins

Vasa Fia Collins: ‘My husband died serving his people’

An emotional outpour from Fa’anānā Efeso Collin’s wife as she passes the baton to the Pacific community to carry on his work

Vasa Fia Collins and daughter Kaperiella in their eulogy for her late husband and Greens MP Fa'anānā Efeso Collins.

If you were to walk into Due Drops Events Centre in Manukau City today, you might have thought the Pacific were having a party.

The foyer had Christian songs pumping through the speakers, and jokes from Fa’anānā's family filled the stadium with sore stomachs from laughter.

In one example, Harry Fatu-Toleafoa, who drove Fa’anānā's labelled van during his mayoral campaign entertained attendees with stories of their journey.

“The road rage we received, the citings at particular alcohol outlets, I think that’s when the polling came out, and we were behind and the grief that it (the car) gave my wife when she opened up the curtains and saw the face of Efeso every morning.

“One day he called me and said ‘Hey, let’s go to Warkworth and speak to some white people who don’t believe in the Treaty’.”

Eddie Tuiavii standing as the MC at one of his best friends funeral.

Inside the venue was a large bunch of Samoan ili (fans) being passed around from family members to cool themselves from the stuffy heat in the venue.

A gospel choir led by family and friends of Fa’anānā brought people from the four winds together through praise and worship.

Everyone was looking forward tp the molimau (speech) of his wife Vasa Fia Collins, who was accompanied by their children Kaperiella and Asalemo.

In her opening remarks, she said: “I’m an ordinary woman who married an extraordinary man.”

She followed up with an insight into their marriage:

“He treated me like a queen, every single moment we were together. He was thoughtful and selfless in the way he cared for us. A true gentleman, always serving our needs before his own.”

The crowd in attendance at his funeral.

But it wasn’t long before Vasa broke into a joke about her late husband.

“If you knew him, you always knew that he tried to discreetly enter places and sit at the back but how can you miss a man who’s six foot four inches with a booming voice and a beautiful big smile.”

The day before Fa’anānā died, more than a week ago, the couple celebrated the fifth anniversary of their law firm consultancy.

Vasa also said that, due to his political standpoints, he was like “the rose that grew from concrete.”

“He blossomed and bloomed in the face of adversity, abuse, depression, racial discrimination, death threats, (and) constant online and spiritual attacks. But, none of this stopped him from rising. He showed up for himself, for me, for our girls, and for the square peg,.” she said.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon was in attendance, with cabinet ministers, alongside all of the Green Party MPs (ressed in green), Te Pāti Māori, and Labour MPs.

And in true Samoan funeral fashion, there was food outside in a marquee waiting to feed mourners as they left.

The service even had water boys from Ōtara youth groups keeping people hydrated throughout the sauniga maliu (tangi).

After his funeral service Fa'anānā's coffin was driven through Tangaroa College, Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Junior School, Otara Rugby League Football Club, Otara and Otāhuhu Town Centre.

However, Vasa did have one final message to the public and young Pasifika who may feel they’ve lost a leader.

“Fes (Efeso) died serving others. He has finished his leg of the race and the baton is firmly in all of our hands. Please don’t let all that he did, all his hard work, all his blood, sweat, and tears be for nothing.”

Fa’anānā Efeso Collins was driven through his hometown of Ōtara and Ōtahuhu in his hearse before je was taken to his final resting place.