Jonah Lomu's sons in touching tribute at funeral

Nadene Lomu holds her boys close as family and friends gather to farewell Jonah Lomu. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Nadene Lomu holds her boys close as family and friends gather to farewell Jonah Lomu. Photo / Brett Phibbs

JONAH Lomu sons Brayley and Dhyreille paid a musical tribute to their father as family and friends gathered to farewell the All Blacks legend.

The boys, who were dressed in black shirts with the silver fern on the front Lomu's and No.11 on the back, sang a duet "I am a child of God" at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mangere.

Nadene Lomu's father Merv Quirk spoke about his sadness at losing a son, a son he'd also had the privilege of baptising and welcoming into their church.

"It's [the baptism] a fond memory I have of Jonah," he said. "I was his biggest fan, long before I met him."

He said it was a privilege to witness Jonah Lomu become a humble man of faith.

He said it broke his heart when Jonah Lomu was unwell to see him suffer, but said he refused to let it hold him back.

"Jonah was a man of few words, but he followed up on what he said. He didn't say much - but he did a lot."

"I'm going to miss him very much, I know Nadene will, the boys will and they were very brave to sing his song."

He recalled the "heartwarming" good times seeing the young boys, Nadene and Jonah Lomu dancing and singing together.

Jonah's brother, John, spoke of growing up with his older brother.

He said while he touched the hearts of many people "no-one will ever know the pain of a brother or a sister".

He finished by reading a poem in memory of his brother.

Dr John Mayhew spoke of how Jonah Lomu did not let his medical struggles put him down.

"He dealt with life threatening illness with no self pity," he said. "He was a gracious humble man who never wanted to bother anyone."

Dr Mayhew said Jonah Lomu was like family to him.

"Jonah to me was humble no ego, honest in his opinions and generous to a fault...He even liked having tea in fine china tea cups.

Dr Mayhew described a man who went above and beyond for the children he met through his charitable work.

"You have enriched my life in so many ways - rest in peace my friend."

The service began with a powerful rendition of the Lord is my Shepherd by the Auckland Regional Choir.

President of the Auckland New Zealand Mt Roskill stake of the church, Anthony Wilson, began the official proceedings by welcoming the senior members of the church and Tongan community who were in attendance.

This was then followed by the 800-plus mourners at the service singing the hymn "Because I have been given much".

In delivering the eulogy, Mr Wilson spoke of his relationship with Lomu, off the field, in the church.

"He was a big man an athletic prodigy," he said. "[But] Jonah found a spiritual home close to his south Auckland roots.

In 2012 he came as a convert to the church with a "colourful past".

He said it was a testament to his strength that Lomu was able to come to the altar and "let it be your will be done".

He spoke of Lomu's efforts to share his journey of faith, with not just the local youth, but many more across the world.

His described a man devoted to his faith, to fatherhood, to his children and to his wife Nadene. "It was with sadness that we who are left behind weep and mourn.

"Jonah has passed on, now we are here to mourn his loss and consider the legacy he has left behind."

Mr Wilson said it was time for those left behind to carry this legacy on.

"He has lived a life that passed with great abundance it's time for us to take the baton and move forward."

The service - the last of four for the former All Black - is to be followed by a dedicatory service at Manukau Memorial Gardens cemetery.

The funeral began when a black funeral hearse carrying Lomu's body pulled up to the church at around 10.40am.

Lomu's wife, Nadene and Brayley and Dhyreille greeted the coffin - cloaked in a rugby jersey bearing Lomu's number 11- as it was taken out of the hearse and carried into the church by pall bearers also wearing shirts with the number 11.

It was then lain at the front of the church, which had been adorned with a number of yellow roses.

The service concluded at around 12:30 with a hymn - The spirit of God, followed by a prayer read by Lois Quirk.

As the family accompanied the coffin outside of the church the choir sang a postlude - Abide with Me.

Jonah's two boys led the family procession out of the church, holding hands with their grandfather.

Nadene followed tearfully behind her husband's coffin supported by her mother and other relatives.

The two boys helped push their father's coffin, getting into the back of the funeral hearse with it, before it was driven off to the Manukau Memorial Gardens Cemetery for a private dedication service.

Yesterday, Nane Malupo, a relative of Jonah Lomu's mother Hepi, said the family were struggling to come to terms with his loss, saying that the funeral would be their hardest day yet.

"It is still a shock to us that this has happened."

Malupo said Jonah's mother was particularly struggling with the news. "Hepi is trying to stay strong but deep down inside she is finding it difficult," she said.

"She only just lost her husband a few years ago and now she has lost her son. It is very tough on her."

Nadene and her children were the focus of yesterday's public memorial service at Eden Park.

They released doves into the crowds, after friends and loved ones spoke movingly about Lomu.

Former All Black Michael Jones praised Nadene for allowing New Zealanders to pay their respects to the rugby legend at different memorial celebrations over the past two weeks.

"We really have to acknowledge Nadene," Jones told Newstalk ZB.

"She's let the nation and the different communities in. I think if it was her decision she probably would have just wanted it small and done privately."

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