Mayoral candidate inspired by youth

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Auckland mayoral hopeful Efeso Collins speaks during a candidates’ debate in Howick in July. Times photo Wayne Martin

Efeso Collins says should he become Auckland’s next mayor, the city will get a visionary leader who listens to people and is courageous and inclusive.

The Manukau ward councillor is among a field of candidates hoping to replace outgoing mayor Phil Goff who’s retiring from the role at the Auckland Council elections being held in October.

Collins and four other mayoral hopefuls fronted a public debate in Howick in late July.

Following the event he spoke to the Times about why he wants the job and what Aucklanders can expect from him if he wins.

“They will get a visionary mayor but they will also get a mayor who really cares about the community, who’s interested in listening to people’s voices, who’s courageous and who’s inclusive.

“I will make sure every part of the community has a voice whether you’re part of the Rainbow community or whether you live in Howick or Titirangi or Greenhithe.

“You’re going to have a voice and I’m going to make myself available to people.”

Collins grew up in South Auckland with a father who was a church minister and taxi driver and a mother who worked as a cleaner at Middlemore Hospital.

He says his parents’ strong work ethic was instilled in him and if he’s elected mayor he’ll work hard to get things done for Auckland.

“I work day and night. It’s a massive role and our family is up to it.

“I’m also definitely a listener and as someone who listens and listens authentically that’s really important.

“I’m authentic, I’m collaborative, and I like to work with people, but I’m also courageous.

“Courage is required in this role because not everyone is going to agree with you and if we’re going to set an agenda that is going to make this council the climate action council then that’s going to need some courage.”

Before getting into politics Collins worked in youth mentoring and as a lecturer in education at a theological college.

He’s held roles at the University of Auckland, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Development, as a radio talkback host, and is a former president of the Auckland University students’ association.

Collins is standing for mayor as an Independent but has been endorsed by the Labour and Green parties.

He’s a former chairperson of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board and was elected as an Auckland ward councillor for Manukau in 2016.

Collins is campaigning on a platform that includes tackling climate change, establishing a Youth Governing Board to help young people develop leadership skills, making public transport fare-free and reducing crime by making it easier for communities to keep young people out of gangs.

The Times asked Collins for his view on the decision by Auckland Transport to have the Eastern Busway deviate through Burswood rather than run along Ti Rakau Drive between Pakuranga and Botany.

He says it’s an example of the council and AT not being good at communicating with residents.

“If communities have been told ‘this is the route it’s going to take’, then let’s follow that route.

“If there are sudden changes then we’ve got to organise ourselves so communities know [about them] and if they believe the wrong decision has been made, they’ve got to have a genuine opportunity to say so.

“That’s been a failure of the council-controlled organisation model.”

Should Collins become the city’s next civic leader he says he’ll reintroduce the ‘mayor in the chair’ initiative used by former mayor Len Brown.

It saw Brown spend time at various public places so people could discuss issues with him.

“On the campaign trail I’ve been out there meeting people, but even as a local councillor, I make myself available a couple of times a month at a library or local churches so people can come and talk to me.

“We’ve got to be out in the community rather than sitting in endless meetings where we think what we’re doing is important, and it often is, but it means we lose connection with the community.”

Collins is the only mayoral candidate who’s a current member of the council’s governing body.

He says that position gives him an advantage as he already has inside knowledge of how the super-city works.

“It’s a beast and having worked at the local board for three years [previously] I’ve seen how often dissatisfied locals are because they don’t feel they have a voice.

“Then going to the governing body and seeing how you have to look at Auckland from a regional perspective and what’s best for the city.”

He says his family fully supports his campaign for the mayoralty.

Collins says he’s married to a “beautiful Samoan woman” with whom he has two daughters.

“I’ve got young children and I’m thinking carefully about what their future is going to be.

“My daughter often talks to me about climate change and making sure we’re eating better, we’re catching the bus and we’re walking and I think it’s that influence that’s giving me a real sense of direction and purpose because it’s about them.”

The council elections are being held on October 8.

For more information or to enrol to vote go online to