Rugby great’s family repeats denials that convicted drug smuggler is related to Lomu

Selaima Fakaosilea is co-accused of importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group. Photo/DENISE PIPER/STUFF

The family of Jonah Lomu have repeated denials that convicted drug smuggler Selaima Faka’osilea was the late Tongan rugby star’s niece.

Selaima Faka’osilea, 30, and a co-accused, Stevie Norua Cullen, 36, were tried in the High Court at Whangārei on charges of importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group.

On June 12, 2016, police in the Far North seized 449kg of methamphetamine from a campervan and 52kg buried in sand dunes on Ninety Mile Beach. The  haul was worth almost half a billion dollars.

The mainstream media has repeated the claim about Faka’osilea’s alleged relationship in stories this week about a prison guard who resigned after having a relationship with her.

According to the reports the prison guard formed a romantic relationship with the prisoner and smuggled items into the women’s prison in Wiri where she is serving a 12 and-a-half year sentence.

Cousins of Lomu and people who know Lomu and Faka’osilea’s families well from church and cultural communities have said the convict is not Lomu’s niece.

They accused the mainstream media of using Lomu as click bait to attract  readers by publishing negative stories about the Pacific Islands community.

They said this was done to gain popularity and ignore the Pacific Islands community’s achievements.

Stories published by Stuff and the New Zealand Herald as well as NewstalkZB have been criticised, with some people telling Kaniva News  they were blocked from the Herald’s Facebook page after they questioned its sources.

In 2019 Kaniva News quoted Jonah Lomu’s younger brother Sione as denying the media reports and confirming they had no blood connection with Faka’osilea. 

At the time Stuff described Fakaosilea as a first cousin of Lomu, although she referred to him as “uncle.”

It said the mother-of-one “comes from a proud sporting family and was a relative of late rugby star Lomu.”

Sione Lomu told Kakalu ‘O Tonga newspaper “that was a lie.”

“She is not my cousin and I do not know her,” Sione told the paper, which is printed in Tongan. 

Sione also denied to Kakalu that Jonah and Selaima’s mother, Sela Tutu’ila, were first cousins.

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