Jonah inducted into Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame


A week of excellence in celebration of our Pasifika people and a cherished inagural Pasifika Rugby Hall of Fame Dinner was held on Thursday evening at Eden Park in Auckland. Marking a historic event for Pacific communities in New Zealand and internationally. Some of rugby's biggest names walked the grounds of the Garden of Eden once again, but this time to acknowledge seven legendary Pacific stalwarts of rugby and their tremendous contribution to the sport.

Five hundred and fifty guests filled the Grand Hall to celebrate the first ever PRHOF Inductees, including Nadene Lomu, wife the late All Black great Jonah Lomu, and their two sons Brayley and Dhyreille representing Jonah.

“Jonah was an inspiration to rugby fans around the world. He meant so much to so many, in particular our own Pasifika community,” Sir Michael commented.

He continued on to say, “The Jonah Lomu Memorial Award will be presented to the most outstanding contributor to Pacific Island rugby of the year. Honoring the recipient of this prestigious accolade will be one of the highlights of our annual Celebration Ceremony.

The PRHOF acknowledges the support of Jonah’s wife Nadene for endorsing this special and significant award and we are in full support of the work she does in continuing to grow and build Jonah’s legacy with their boys Brayley and Dhyreille.

We know it's not easy for Nadene protecting Jonah’s legacy, but we are here to support her, we all are as the PRHOF community and we commend her for all the hard work she does” said Sir Michael Jones.

Other inductees, the All Black great, Tuafa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams, Fijian sevens legend Waisale Serevi, former Wallaby flanker George Smith, former Black Ferns captain Seiuli Fiao'o Fa'amausili and Lakapi Samoa Sevens team coach Muliagatele Brian Lima and the late Manu Samoa icon Papali'itele Peter Fatialofa were also inducted, represented his their family.

Chairperson of the PRHOF, La'auli Savae Sir Michael Jones, reflected on the rich history of Pacific rugby in his opening remarks.  

"Our connection with this great game goes back over one hundred years. Rugby was first played in Fiji in the 1880s by European and Fijian soldiers of the Native Constabulary. The Marist brothers then brought the game to Samoa in 1920, and rugby was introduced to Tonga by sailors and missionaries around the same time. Then, a bit like the spreading of the gospel, rugby spread like fire to the other Pacific islands."  

Seiuli Jesse Sapolu, former American Football NFL Player and USA Board Director for the PRHOF, shared the significance of the event and its connection to the Polynesian Pro Football Hall of Fame, which he helped to establish in America 12 years ago.  

"There is a special respect amongst Pacific Island athletes, whether you play gridiron or rugby. Tonight marks a historic moment as gridiron and rugby join forces for what we believe will be an incredible, impactful and global initiative. 

Our community may be small in population, but our success in these two great sports is enormous." 

Seiuli shared that part of the purpose of the Hall of Fame was to inspire the next generation of Pacific athletes.  

"The people of Pasifika, regardless of where they live, share an unbreakable bond that is cemented in faith, family, culture and sports. 

"The goal is for all of our Pacific island youth to aspire to be whatever they want to be. When we move forward with the mindset of serving our communitiies, it is no longer about you, but about us." 

Nadene Lomu shared an eye watering speech, touching many hearts in the room while leaving them in awe and inspired by her strength and courage since loosing Jonah. She too shared words of encouragement to the Pasifika community; not only to both the current and future generations but also to her and Jonah’s sons.

“First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to Sir Michael Jones and Seuili Jessie Saupolo not only for this evening, but for all of our Pasifika people. To have something so great, I am thankful, for it gives us all the opportunity of those that have gone before us, those yet to come and our future generations, a voice where we are heard, a voice where we are acknowledged, and our athletes are deserving of what they should be”. Nadene continued on to say, “I know without a doubt that while it saddens my heart and the children to that while Jonah is unable to take this privilege for himself. I take in honour and respect for him and I know he would feel so special to be part of the inductees with such a special ceremony. I thank each of you for the support and the love that has been shown to us, the children and I since loosing Jonah, and the difficulties we have faced, the difficulties we continue to face. But something that Jonah said to me the day before he passed away was "promise me, promise me you will never give up, promise me you will never stop fighting no matter how hard it gets, no matter who you come up against,  promise me you will keep going” - to continue on his legacy for the greater good of our people but for his children aswell. So I thank you from the bottom of my heart, I thank everyone that has shown support to the children and I. Lastly but not least, to my parents; I am thankful, they uprooted their lives to be by our side because it got to difficult, and I know Jonah would be so grateful for everything and without their love and support, I wouldn't be here to take this honour for Jonah; so to our people, to all of our Pasifika both near and far, I say stand for what you believe, never left anyone dampen your voice, never let anyone discourage your dreams, because we are here and we are one. Thank you” said Nadene Lomu  

To close the evening, Pacific rugby players received awards to celebrate their influence on the game internationally. One of the awards being presented to All Blacks loose forward, Ardie Savea (Samoan), received the Jonah Lomu Award for most influential Pasifika male player in the world, presented by Nadene Lomu.

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