As the second anniversary of Rugby legend Jonah Lomu nears, his brother, John, and sister, Sela, have spoken of the ongoing pain after his death to the New Zealand Herald.
The pair is upset Lomu’s grave still does not feature a headstone. Lomu’s widow, Nadene Lomu, has control of the grave site.
It is disappointing for us – it’s not often you go beyond a year before you place a headstone for any of your family members,” John told the New Zealand Herald.
“It’s one of those things I find quite hard. It’s sad when you go to see it looks pretty bare.”
Sela added: “Usually after one year they put up a gravestone but it’s up to her [Nadene]. The plot belongs to her.”
Presently, a simple cross inscribed with “Jonah Tali Lomu” sits above Lomu’s final resting place.
The grave at the Manukau Memorial Gardens has been the subject of a long-running rift between Nadene and Lomu’s family, including his mum, Hepi.
On the first anniversary of his death last year, family members were cautioned by a cemetery staff member when a blessing was being held by a pastor.
The Herald on Sunday yesterday was shown video of the incident, with the staff member saying he was acting on a request from “the burial rights holder”.
In the video, Sela replied: “The burial holder rights holder is our sister-in-law. Basically all we wanted was just to have a prayer over his grave to mark one year and she has asked us not to do it?”
The man nodded.
“She could have had the decency to tell us – we had the decency to invite her,” Sela replied.
Sela – who described Lomu as “my protector” – said she and other family had not seen Brayley or Dhryeille since “my big brother died”.
“We don’t even know where they live now,” she said.
John added it was hard not having contact with his nephews but “we just take it as it comes”.
Nadene and the boys were invited to a blessing at Lomu’s grave last year, but John said they “didn’t show up”.
“My mum said if and when the boys want to know about their father’s side of the family, we will be there for them,” he said. “But Mum has more than enough grandchildren to look after.”