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Efeso Collins | Fuimaono Tuiasau – two distinguished former NZYMN trustees

It was a very sad coincidence, that the iconic Catholic church in Otahuhu - where the family funeral service for Efeso Collins was held on March 1 following his huge public farewell in Manukau the previous day, was later the venue for a requiem mass for Fuimaono Tuiasau, on March 13.

Both Efeso and Fuimaono had provided generous and memorable contributions as NZYMN trustees, then continued to be actively involved in Youth Mentoring. Fuimaono retained formal connections via the MATES programme, while Fa’anānā Efeso who had provided past mentor training for NZYMN together with his wife Vasa Fia, is already on our permanent record, thanks to his written contributions to training materials.     

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith is a Biblical quote from Fuimaono’s funeral sheet, that applies equally to both these extraordinary sons of Samoa. Efeso was a totally consistent and remarkable exemplar of Tautua – Samoan culture’s paramount leadership value of Service, while Fuimaono’s identical capacity to use words to balance strength with sensitivity was also memorably noted – How to be powerful and move gently in the world.  

Efeso will be forever associated with Otara, while Fui attended Onehunga High School with GM Joy Eaton – who later joined NZYMN chair Ann Dunphy, in teaching at Fes’ beloved Tangaroa College.

Reproduced below in tribute to them both, is the poem recited by Karlo Mila at Efeso’s farewell on 29 February 2024

Beyond the Reef Son of the Southside, Infant of Ōtara, there will be churches heaving with hymns, despair in the corner dairies, tears in the eyes of teachers, disappointed blessings in the mouths of preachers, school children singing laments, community boards crying, I hear the haka of Tangaroa College a stampede stamping with anger and pride, teenagers looking up from their devices, learning your name for the first time, a whole community reeling, united in a singular feeling: grief. 

Tuakana of the Pasifika Community: Every Facebook friend has a selfie with you, because you were not a selfie, you were community, collective, in the village of the migrant dream. Presidential among your peers, the next wave… And among unprecedented upward mobility, you pulled with all your might, the ones we might leave behind. Reading the pedagogy of the liberated, leading a dreaming fono. 

Mentoring many: connecting us, repping us, collectivity in your bones, justice in your stride. By us, with us, for us. Without compromise. Pakeke of Parliament, you deserved to stand upright there, voice of the voiceless, heralding the hushed into hallowed halls. You dared to Maya Angelou “rise”. Taking that Moana Jackson deep breath, before you exercised so many acts of courage. You reached beyond the boundaries that racism set for us. You swam beyond the safe, blessing the sharks that circled around you, death threats, race bait, white supremacist hate.

For us, it is a dangerous democracy, but still you pursued that perilous pathway to power, facing powerful push-back, racist resistance, old-boys clubs-clubbing, the back-stab of our own machetes, a hair’s breadth away. too close for comfort. A heart would break, to walk up that steep city street so distressed with stress. A heart would break. And yet you found the channel that would take you past the the reef, where others fear to go, you found flow. 

With your beloveds, braved the waves, entered the open sea, in which we find ourselves free, where we remember the ocean in us, ancient mariners, expert navigators, sailing our salty pathways to each other, expansive as the largest body of water in the world. I wish for our children to meet each other there, and never know, how small they wanted us to be. 

All of us called to be more, voyage further, pursue ambitious service, in your wake. Son of Sāmoa, Child of Aotearoa, there will be a karanga called in exuberant welcome - an unwavering voice called to calling those who’ve passed, to the other side, past the Pōhutukawa, from the jumping off place across ancient ocean roads, the journey to Pulotu, Hawaaiki, heaven, entering the multidimensional lagi where your people sing with fragrant flowers and festive lei, celebrating. 

Man of faith, a true servant of Christ, devout Christian, a soul of salvation, returning home. Whetūrangitia. You become the ancestor we always knew you were.


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