Hundreds mourn Jonah Lomu in first public service

10:27 pm on 22 November 2015

More than 600 people have crowded a South Auckland church to remember and mourn the late Jonah Lomu.

About 600 people attended the service at a Mangere church.

About 600 people attended the service at a Mangere church. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

It is the first public memorial for the former All Black, who died a day after returning from overseas.

Jonah Lomu's mother Hepi Lomu wept openly as she was seated at the front of the Mangere church.

The service's organiser, Salote Heleta-Lilo, said the community was paralysed by the death of someone loved and admired.

And Pacific Islands Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga told the mourners Jonah Lomu was an ambassador for rugby, for New Zealand, and for Tongan people when he put the black jersey on.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said this continued until his death.

First service for Jonah Lomu

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Forty candles were lit during the service - one for each year of Jonah Lomu's life.

A second, and much larger public memorial service which could be held at Eden Park, is still being planned.