God has taken the “maeakafa” from us, says Rev Finau as thousands gather for Lomu memorial service this evening

A sombre religious service in memory of Jonah Lomu in Mangere this evening started with a prayer in which the presiding Rev Tevita Finau expressed his grief over the superstar’s death and told the congregation that God has taken the “maeakafa” from them.

The use of the poetical term was unusual, even though it was not culturally prohibited, as it can only be used publicly to refer to the Late King Tupou I of Tonga to denote his exceptional wisdom, size, strength and success in freeing commoners from the rule of the monarchy and nobility and uniting Tongans under his leadership.

The service was held at Lotofaleʻia Tongan Methodist Church, where Lomu worshipped when he was young.

The memorial service was the first to be conducted since Lomu died on November 18.

As people sat in silence in the church, the service began with hymn 391 from the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga hymnal, ‘Oku ‘i ai ha ki’i fonua.

Many people in the congregation began to cry as Lomu’s mother Hepisipa and her family were invited to the front of the church to light the candles.

IMG_6388
Jonah Lomu’s mum, Hepisipa whom most of the speakers, paid tribute to her during the ceremony. Photo/Kaniva Pacific News/ Kalino Latu

More other people were also invited to the front to light candles.

Thousands of Tongans and people from other Pacific Islands attended, including the Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, Sam Lotu Iga, MP for Mangere Sua, William Sio, and the Tongan MP for Manaukau East, Jenny Latu Salesa and the Cook Islands General Consulate, Her Excellency Mrs. Rossie Blake and Tuvalu Community Leader Fala Haurangi as well as Vijendra Prasad, the Fijian/Indian Community Leader.

IMG_6363
Tongan dignitaries, local community board members, members of parliament and friends and family gathered at the church to remember the rugby legend on Sunday. Photo/Kalino Latu/Kaniva Pacific News

Church leaders who attended included Rev. Leomaisini Lea, Former Free Wesleyan Church President ‘Alifeleti Mone and Rev. Sekope ‘Uhila.

All speeches made during the service paid special tribute to Lomu’s mother for her attendance and for the loss of her son.

Hon. Iga told the audience there “will be no more Jonah Lomus” on the rugby field.

IMG_6372
Former All Black ‘Isitolo Maka lights candles during the memorial service for Jonah Lomu. Photo/Kalino Latu/ Kaniva Pacific News

Sioeli Motu’apuaka, one of the Tongan community’s leaders in New Zealand, spoke on behalf of Lomu’s paternal side.

He said people from Lomu’s maternal side always compared Lomu’s success  to his maternal uncle Peni Kiole of Holopeka. Kiole played prop for Tonga’s national rugby team and he was locally famous  in his times because of his size and toughness in the rugby field, just like Lomu.

But Motu’apuaka told the congregation Lomu’s talent came from his paternal side from the village of Te’ekiu in Tongatapu where his father’s mother came from. This was met with an applause and laughter mid-way through.

IMG_6391
Hon. Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga told the church of seeing Lomu not long before his death and he was shock when he heard about the news. Photo/Kalino Latu/Kaniva Pacific News

He said Te’ekiu’s rugby team once won the national championship while one of Lomu’s great uncles who were rugby players, Tevita Sitani played prop for the team.

MP Sua William Sio said Lomu might have made millions from his talents  after he proved to be a rugby superstar.

Sio said one of his nephews once had his eyebrows shaved in the shape of the number 11 on Lomu’s jersey.

“I said Jonah probably got $1 million for that, but I think your mum is going to smack you,” Sio said to much applause and laughter.

IMG_6314
Service organiser Salote Heleta-Lilo spoke about Jonah and said “You have taught our children to dream and to believe the non achievable, achievable indeed.” Photo/Kalino Latu/Kaniva Pacific News

Former Wesleyan President Rev. Alifeleti Mone from the Free Weslyan Church thanked everyone for attending.

“God bless you all,” he said. “Thank you very much.”

Rev. Mone, who served as Superintend of the Auckland-Manukau Wesleyan community from 1988 – 94, said Lomu’s sister asked him to celebrate her wedding.

IMG_6292
Tongans were wearing ta’ovala and watch in silence while speakers delivered their speeches. Photo/Kalino Latu/Kaniva Pacific News

After getting permission from the Lotofale’ia Methodist church pastor Rev Mone officiated at the service. He said Lomu signed as father for his sister’s wedding on behalf of their late father Semisi Lomu.

Rev. Mone said he believed Lomu had lived his life according to what he learned by heart from the Bible and that was why he was greatly successful.

Drawing a link between Lomu’s sporting abilities and his faith, Rev. Mone quoted 2 Timothy, verses 4-7: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

Here is the order of speakers for tonight’s service:

1. Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

2. Former President of Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, Dr Rev ‘Alifaleti Mone

3. Tongan Community Leader, Sioeli Motu’apuaka.

4. Su’a William Sio, MP for Mangere

5. Mrs Rosie Blake, Cook Islands General Consulate.

6. Vijendra Prasad, Fijian-Indian community leader.

7. Fala Haurangi, Tuvalu community leader.

8. Sinipata Kaufononga, a childhood friend of Lomu.

9. Nalesoni Tupou, Barrister

The main points

  • A sombre religious service in memory of Jonah Lomu in Mangere this evening started with a prayer in which the presiding Rev Tevita Finau told the audience that God has taken the “maeakafa” from them.
  • The service was held at Lotofalei’a Tongan Methodist Church this, where Lomu worshipped when he was young.
  • Many people in the congregation began to cry as Lomu’s mother Hepisipa and her family were invited to the front of the church to light the candles.
  • Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, Sam Lotu Iga told the congregation” “There will be no more Jonah Lomus” on the rugby field.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news