The last haka


The last haka: Mourners pay fitting tribute to rugby legend Jonah Lomu as thousands join his heartbroken family at Auckland service
  • Jonah Lomu passed away unexpectedly at his home in Auckland earlier this month 
  •  A service for the public was held at Eden Park in Auckland a fortnight after his death
  • The legendary All Blacks winger scored 37 tries in 63 Tests and starred during 1995 and 1999 World Cups
  • Tributes have flooded in from all over the world for rugby's first global superstar 
·         It was the most fitting tribute to a rugby giant. In suits, in sports kit and in T-shirts emblazoned with his name, scores of mourners filed on to the pitch to perform a last haka for Jonah Lomu.
·         The venue, Eden Park, is the home of New Zealand rugby and a stadium where the 6ft 5in All Black had played many times before a crowd awed by his power, speed and sheer stature.
·         But on Monday there was no match to win. Instead the crowd of 8,000 people gathered solely to honour Lomu, who died unexpectedly at the age of 40 from a cardiac arrest a fortnight ago.
·         Among them were his wife Nadine, 34, and their children Brayley, six, and Dhyreille, five, who released doves in his memory. The haunting rendition of the haka was performed by former and current All Blacks as a hearse containing Lomu's body was driven onto the pitch.


Widow of late New Zealand All Blacks rugby legend Jonah Lomu, Nadene Lomu (centre) is comforted by her two sons, Brayley (centre left) and Dhyreille (centre right), and her mother Lois Kuiek (right) and father Mervyn Kuiek (left) during a memorial service at Eden Park


All Blacks past and present including Josh Kronfeld (front, second right) perform a haka on the pitch

A huge crowed gathered at the hallowed Auckland venue to pay tribute to a legend of New Zealand and world rugby

Lomu's wife Nadine and their two sons Brayley and Dhyreille are comforted by her father Mervyn Kuiek (left) and mother Lois Kuiek

All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino and Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei, wearing a Jonah 11 jersey, acted as pallbearers for the ceremony 
Former All Blacks team mate Eric Rushspoke from a stage, recounting tales of an aversion to training and a voracious appetite that brought Lomu into conflict with the strict nutritional edicts of his professional coaches.
'It was a love-hate relationship. I loved training, he loved the Manukau city food court,' Rush said, referring to his hometown.
'You didn't tell Jonah to do anything, but if you asked him, he'd run through a brick wall for you.' 
The service followed a special 'family day' which was held in Manukau, New Zealand to celebrate his Tongan heritage on Saturday. A private family funeral will take place on Tuesday.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, who was unable to attend the service due to his commitments at the UN summit in Paris, sent a video message honouring the All Blacks great.
'He meant so much to his family and his community,' said Key. 
'He wanted to make a real difference to people's lives and he certainly did that.
'He proved that you can come from anywhere in New Zealand, from any background, and make it to the top.
'My thoughts are with wife Nadine, his young boys and family. Go well Jonah, rest in peace.'

Bravery: Nadene Lomu stands with her two sons Brayley and Dhyreille, who wore special T-shirts in tribute to their father



Tragic star: Lomu, left in his playing days, and right with his wife Nadine and son Braydley in 2009, suffered from a rare kidney condition

Lomu's coffin is carried onto the pitch by 12 pallbearers as former players begin their haka in his honour

The brave sons of the former All Black hold their mother's hand as the coffin is carried past them at the side of the playing area

A Maori warrior leads the coffin carrying the body of Jonah Lomu out on to the field at Eden Park in Auckland 

Celebrating his life: Brayley Lomu (centre), Jonah's son, helps to release white doves during the moving ceremony

Touching: Lomu's widow Nadene releases a dove. The star's private funeral will be held on Tuesday

The entire Auckland Blues Super Rugby squad were in attendance for the memorial service on their home turf at Eden Park 
The giant winger was rugby's first global superstar following his remarkable performances during the 1995 World Cup with his four-try showing against England in the semi-final a seismic moment. 
Lomu, who scored 37 tries in 63 Tests for New Zealand, was diagnosed with the rare kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, in 1995, which made his achievements on the rugby field all the more remarkable.
Despite the debilitating nature of his illness, Lomu went on to shine for the All Blacks at the 1999 World Cup.
Lomu's illness eventually forced him to hang up his boots and he had a kidney transplant in 2004, but the organ stopped functioning in 2011 with the former Wellington Hurricanes winger forced to undergo regular dialysis. 

Nadine Lomu leans over her husband's coffin as her sons watch on. A touching family photo was used in the service 
World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset travelled from France to pay tribute to a true giant of the game. 
'Jonah Lomu was a giant. He was a towering presence in any team,' said Lapassat. 'As well as being a giant in the game, he was a giant of the game. A true rugby superstar.
'He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered. Jonah inspired millions around the world with his incredible strength and power.
'His contribution to rugby cannot be overstated. He took our sport to a new level and profile. At the World Cup in 1995, he burst on to the scene scoring seven tries in five matches.

Tradition: Maori warriors in traditional dress run onto the pitch as rugby players and fans saluted the late star

Honour: A Maori war party is on display as part of the public memorial at the 50,000-seater Eden Park
JONAH LOMU'S RUGBY CAREER
Full name: Jonah Tali Lomu
Born: May 12, 1975 in Auckland, NZ
Height: 6ft 5in
Weight: 18st 10lb 
Position: Wing
Provincial/State sides: North Harbour, Wellington, Counties Manukau
Super Rugby :Hurricanes, Chiefs, Blues
Senior clubs: Marseille, Cardiff Blues, Wainuiomata RFC
All Blacks Test Caps: 63
All Blacks Test points:  185 (37 tries)
First Test: June 26, 1994 vs France at Christchurch (aged 19 years, 45 days)
Last Test: November 23, 2002 vs Wales (aged 27 years, 195 day
'When I think of that amazing tournament in South Africa 20 years ago, I think of two people. Off the field, I think of Nelson Mandela. On the field, I think of Jonah Lomu. Both men inspired millions around the world.
'I know that one of the things that Jonah loved about rugby was its ability to get people together.
'He was a giant man and leaves a giant space in world rugby. He will forever be a big part of rugby's story. Thank you Jonah.' 
Speaking on behalf of Lomu's wife Nadine and the rest of his wider family, former All Blacks coach John Hart spoke of his admiration for a player who 'saved his best for World Cups'.
'Today it is my privilege to speak on behalf of Jonah's family,' said Hart. 'The family would like to thank the thousands of people, at home and abroad, for their kind messages.
'Today, we celebrate the all too short life of a great New Zealander. His record number of 15 World Cup tries scored in just 11 matches was only matched recently by the great South Africa winger Bryan Habana.
'The most remarkable aspect of Jonah's career is that throughout, he was suffering from a serious kidney disease.
'It is frightening to think what he could have done on the field if he had not played the majority of his career with his hand on the medical handbrake.
'Jonah did not want anyone to know, including his All Black coach at the time, nor his team-mates, as he never wanted to use it as an excuse.
'Jonah, you were many things to many people. You were a freak on the field and a gentle giant off it. But most of all... you were a lovely, lovely man.
'To the world you will be known as the All Black who made No 11 his own. Rest in peace, my friend.'


The last haka The last haka Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 9:19 PM Rating: 5

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