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'They gave it their all': Friend commends efforts to try save Efeso Collins

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Feb 2024, 10:47AM

'They gave it their all': Friend commends efforts to try save Efeso Collins

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 22 Feb 2024, 10:47AM

Community leader Dave Letele says doctors and off-duty officers were at the scene when Fa’anānā Efeso Collins collapsed yesterday and began life-saving attempts “straight away”. 

Paramedics and firefighters then turned up and performed CPR on the Green MP, who tragically died just after a fundraising run for ChildFund NZ in central Auckland. 

His fellow competitors have begun to pay tribute to their friend and others have laid flowers at the scene where Collins spent his last moments. 

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning, Letele said that “literally one second we were standing around laughing, the next he’s on the ground fighting for his life. [It was] really scary and so sad.” 

Not knowing Collins’ medical history, they had wondered if he was having a fit then realised he was not breathing. 

Collins had just finished taking part in the ChildFund Water Run charity event in central Auckland when he collapsed. Photo / Jason OxenhamCollins had just finished taking part in the ChildFund Water Run charity event in central Auckland when he collapsed. Photo / Jason Oxenham 

The support team for Letele - who was a Pasifika community advocate - initially thought it was him lying on the ground, he said. 

He commended the public including doctors and off-duty officers who jumped in and started CPR straight away before paramedics and firefighters arrived and worked on him for 30-40 minutes. 

”They gave it their all.” 

Letele led prayers as he, Collins’ family and others involved in the event gathered around him. 

Dave Letele led a prayer as paramedics spent 30-40 minutes working on Efeso Collins after the water run in central Auckland. Photo / Jason OxenhamDave Letele led a prayer as paramedics spent 30-40 minutes working on Efeso Collins after the water run in central Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham 

He told Hosking he had taken the rest of the day off and spent the time with his own family. 

“Life is so fragile, you’ve got to treasure every moment.” 

Flava’s Mariner Fagaiava, who was taking part in the charity event alongside Collins, said moments before he collapsed they embraced in a “massive hug”. 

“He served until the very end,” Fagaiava said. 

“Fes, your people are in mourning. From as south as Pukekohe, to as north as Māngere Bridge and through your beloved Ōtara. 

“If South Auckland grows roses from concrete, you were the prettiest of the bouquet.” 

People have laid flowers in Auckland's Britomart where Fa'anānā  Efeso Collins died at a charity event. Photo / Edward SwiftPeople have laid flowers in Auckland's Britomart where Fa'anānā Efeso Collins died at a charity event. Photo / Edward Swift 

Collins’ former Auckland Council colleagues Josephine Bartley and Desley Simpson said his legacy is in his children, his service and his efforts to make politics a more collegial, respectful place. 

Speaking to TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning, Bartley said Collins was determined to bridge the divide in politics. 

He talked about his wife Fia and his two girls constantly, Simpson said. 

“He wanted his girls to come through in an Auckland, in a world that they would be equal … he was so conscious of the barriers potentially out there and he really wanted to break them down,” Bartley said. 

Parliament met to pay tribute to Collins yesterday, where an empty chair was draped in a siapo or tapa cloth, and his desk garlanded with a Tokelauan lei. 

Parliament had been meant to sit today and for the rest of the week. However, Leader of the House Chris Bishop motioned that it should rise for the rest of the week and resume on the next scheduled sitting day, Tuesday. 

It is rare to have such a long unscheduled adjournment, but it has been decades since a sitting MP died on a sitting day. 

Collins leaves behind his wife Fia and two daughters. Numerous tributes to Collins have described his huge love for his family, who were the motivation for much of his work. 

The cause of death has not been publicly released, and Letele stressed he was not an expert, nor was he commenting on Collins specifically. But he said one positive from the tragedy could be getting a health message out to the public. 

“Too often in Pasifika and Māori [communities] we joke about gout, we joke about eating KFC, joke about diabetes. We have to take this seriously.” 

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