Ngati Whatua Orakei has been thanked by the Lomu and Quirke families for the powhiri (welcoming) and Tikanga (etiquette) during the Jonah Lomu memorial service on Monday.
The hapu, who hold ‘ahi kaa’ (the keepers of the burning fires) in the Auckland region, provided a full welcome to the tupapku (body) and families on to the ‘sacred’ Eden Park turf.
Along with a Karanga and haka powhiri group, a full mau rakau (weaponry) group stood guard as Jonah arrived for one last run on ‘the garden of Eden’.
In a message from John Hart, the spokesman for the Lomu and Quirke families said: “On behalf of the Lomu and Quirk families, and all of us associated with the organisation of a special event.”
Hart added, “I would appreciate you passing on to your organisers and various members of the performing group our sincere appreciation for their involvement.”
Ngati Whatua members have responded with thanks, with one commenting: “Was an absolute pleasure and honour being part of such a great man’s farewell.”
The Eden Park memorial was attended by close to ten thousand guests, filling up the lower bowl of the stadiums Southern Stand.
Lomu was laid in his final resting place on Tuesday at the Manukau Memorial garden in a private service attended by over a thousand well-wishers and family.