‘Fakalaulaunoa’ continues online as Lomu’s casket is welcomed at Vodafone centre

As Jonah Lomu’s casket was welcomed at the Vodafone Events Centre in South Auckland this afternoon people from all walks of life continued to show their fakalaulaunoa online to the man they called the “Son of the Pacific.”

Fakalaulaunoa is the practice in which a Tongan person tries to connect with someone he liked, especially one who was superior, by first reminiscing about past links or connections of that person with either the person’s friends, siblings, parents or ancestors.

From an Olympic medalist to musicians to inspirational youth, many have posted comments and old photos of Lomu with them on social media to make their fakalaunoa. It will be two more days before the man described as “greatest of us all” will be laid to rest.

Sailosi Latu’ila, a teenager from West Auckland, wrote on Facebook to tell about how he was inspired by Lomu.

“R.I.P to one of my inspirations as a child and as a little boy, watching your highlights made me want to become more like you your videos will always hype me up before a game and it has inspired me to play rugby as a future goal. Thank you for being my inspiration as a little boy R.I.P LEGEND , you’re in good hands now.”

Well-known singer Melenau Lino commented on how a photo she posted to Facebook, was taken with her brother and friends with Lomu 20 years ago.

Jonah Lomu n Melenau
L-R: Una Lino, Melenau Lino, Risa Katoa and Jonah Tali Lomu having lunch at Royal Oak KFC. Photo/Melenau Lino

“The year was 1995. You were cruising with my brother Una and our cousins Henry and Mike. I was working at KFC Royal Oak at the time and you guys stopped over for lunch. Our cousin Risa was visiting from America and she was buzzing over the fact that you were actually there at KFC with the boys. Una and I are just sitting here talking about that day like it was only yesterday. Even when you have gone on to be a global rugby superstar you never forgot the pathway you took to get there and the people that have grown up with along the way. I want to thank my brother Una for keeping these pictures and treasuring the memories of this brother. Fly high big guy. You will always be in our hearts and minds and you will live fondly in our memories till we meet again,” Melenau Lino wrote.  ‪

Jonah Lomu Paea1
Jonah Lomu and Paea Wolgramm’s daughter. Photo/Paea Wolfgramm

Tonga’s first Olympic medalist, Auckland-based Paea Wolfgramm, said that he regretted not taking the opportunity to pose for a photo with Lomu when he had the chance. His luck came from a photo taken of Lomu and his daughter which he posted on Facebook.

“I’d met Jonah a few times, even wrote an article about him but I never thought to get a photo with him…I look back and think…you don’t really regret failing in something you’ve attempted, you regret not doing something you could’ve done… For it is not the time you live that determines your life it is how you live that time. Despite the burden of illness Jonah has lived his life fully and passionately…doing what he could. Rest easy legend…I like to think that through my daughter, I did get that photo with you.”

Paula Mahlon Tu’ivai wrote: “The loss of the greatest player ever to play the game of Rugby is immeasurable. Condolences to the Lomu family and all who witnessed this great ambassador of the sport.”

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Memorial service

There was a strong Pacific Islands atmosphere at the Event Centre when visibly upset Tongans in various kind of ta’ovala (mats wrapped up on the waist) arrived and stood in silence.

A powerful Maori haka was performed to welcome Lomu’s casket.

A Bible reading was given in Tongan language.

Lomu’s wife Nadene arrived wearing ta’ovala and was obviously was in sorrow. She walked slowly with her head cast down into the Event Centre with her two sons and family. Her two boys with Lomu wore ta’ovala and little All Blacks jerseys with the number 11.

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Auckland Mayor Len Brown delivered an emotional tribute to Lomu. He said Lomu had a “south-side heart.” “He loved this place,” the Mayor said.

“I met him first here, we all knew of him first here…we listened to all the early stories coming through from Wesley. There was something special coming out of that school.”

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae also paid tribute to Lomu. He said today was a solemn occasion, but also a celebration.

Many former All Black players attended the service, including Michael Jones, Tana Umanga and Eroni Clarke.

Eroni Clarke, who is Samoan born and has Tongan connection, was also the MC of the memorial service. He told mourners that Lomu “was the greatest of us. …Jonah was the greatest”. Tongan community leader Sione Tu’itahi said a prayer for Jonah. “May your Heavenly Father accept you in his loving arms,” Tu’itahi said.

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The main points

  • As Jonah Lomu’s casket was welcomed at the Vodafone Events Centre in South Auckland this afternoon people from all walks of life continued to show their fakalaulaunoa online to the man they called the “Son of the Pacific.”
  • Fakalaulaunoa is the practice in which a Tongan person tries to connect with someone he liked, especially one who was superior, by first reminiscing about the links or connections of that person with either the person’s friends, siblings, parents or ancestors.
  • From an Olympic medalist to musicians to inspirational youth, many have posted comments and old photos of Lomu with them on social media to make their fakalaunoa.
  • It will be two more days before the man described as “greatest of us all” will be laid to rest.

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