Auckland - After sharing their grief with
an entire nation for almost two weeks, All Black Jonah Lomu's family said their
last goodbyes at a private funeral for the rugby legend in Auckland on Tuesday.
The Mormon ceremony was held at the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' in Mangere, the gritty south Auckland
suburb where Lomu grew up.
His wife Nadene, flanked by sons Brayley,
6, and Dhyreille, 5, addressed mourners from an altar surrounded by pale roses.
The boys wore black shirts with the
winger's number 11, the position their father revolutionised on his way to
becoming rugby's first global superstar.
The low-key event on Tuesday was in
contrast to the scenes of public grief less than 24 hours earlier, when
thousands of fans attended a memorial at Eden Park, the spiritual home of New
There was also a memorial for the Pacific
community to remember Lomu, who had Tongan roots, last Saturday, but Tuesday's
funeral was a chance for extended family to say goodbye.
"It's bringing to the end a great
celebration, the final stage of the journey for Jonah and his family,"
said former All Blacks coach John Hart, who has been acting as a spokesman for
relatives since Lomu's shock death on November 18.
Since Lomu died tributes have poured in
from across the rugby world, with many current players recalling how he
inspired them to take up the game.
Such was his fame that condolences also
came from beyond the sport, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, British
footballer David Beckham, Hollywood star Morgan Freeman and singer Elton John.