New Zealand’s sports stars paid an emotional tribute to Jonah Lomu as thousands of people attended "Remembering Jonah," the final public service for the legendary rugby player.
He died suddenly in Auckland on Nov. 18 at age 40.
Led former captain Buck Shelford of the All Blacks team, Lomu’s present and ex-teammates, including Tana Umaga, John Kirwan, Josh Kronfeld and Jeff Wilson, performed the traditional haka dance as his casket was carried to a hearse.
Haka is a form of tribute to the different indigenous tribes of New Zealand. While Kiwi rugby players mostly use this routine to intimidate their opponents, it’s also performed on other occasions, such as parties and even funerals.
"Lomu remains an inspiration to a whole generation of young Polynesian men. He proved that you can come from anywhere in New Zealand and from any background and make it to the very top," said Prime Minister John Key in a pre-recorded message for the service. He is currently in Paris for climate change talks.