Pacific communities mourn Jonah Lomu

An event to celebrate Jonah Lomu’s life is under way in Auckland, attended by rugby greats and the New Zealand’s Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Lomu, 40, died suddenly on November 18, prompting a huge outpouring of messages from around the world for the former All Black.

Lomu’s wife Nadene and two sons greeted his casket when it arrived, and his mother Hepi is there.

The `Aho Faka Famili, or day of the family, event at the Vodafone Events Centre in south Auckland is an opportunity for communities from the Pacific to honour Lomu.

Many of the thousands of people wore bright Pasifika shirts, black skirts and traditional dress.

Those attending include former All Blacks Michael Jones, Tana Umaga, Dylan Mika, Eric Rush, Alama Ieremia and Pita Alatini.

Sir Jerry and Lady Janine met Auckland mayor Len Brown and were greeted by John Lomu, Jonah’s brother.

Lomu was born in Pukekohe and spent some of his early childhood in Tonga with family, before returning to south Auckland where he attended Wesley College.

The Tongan community honoured Lomu at the Lotofalei’a Tongan Methodist Church, a Mangere church he attended as a child, last Sunday.

Tens of thousands of people are expected at a public memorial service to be held at Eden Park in Auckland on Monday.

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset will travel to New Zealand to attend Monday’s memorial, along with representatives from other international rugby unions, present and former All Blacks, and well-known faces from across New Zealand’s sporting community.

Following the conclusion of Monday’s ceremony, Lomu’s casket will be taken from Eden Park to his home in Epsom.

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