New Zealand parliamentarian dies during charity race

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past the New Zealand parliament building known as the Beehive in central Wellington, New Zealand
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By Lucy Craymer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) -New Zealand parliamentarian and Green Party member Efeso Collins died during a charity event in Auckland on Wednesday, the Green Party said in a statement.

Collins, 49, was participating in a ChildFund Water Run to raise money to bring clean drinking water to countries in the Pacific when he collapsed and died.

“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 to 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.

New Zealand's Parliament will sit this afternoon for political party leaders to make brief comments and then it will adjourn until Feb. 27 as a mark of respect.

Collins, who was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and was of Tokelauan and Samoan heritage, served three terms on the Auckland Council. He was elected to parliament as a member of the Green Party in the 2023 election.

He held the Samoan ali’i chief title of Fa’anana from the village of Satufia, Satupaitea in Savaii.

Collins was married and had two children.

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said in a statement he was saddened by the news of Collins' sudden death.

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

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Josie Kao)