The Diary: Lomu farewells his dad after long health battle

Jonah Lomu and Nadene Quirk married in Wellington so Lomu's father could attend. Photo / Michael Craig
Jonah Lomu and Nadene Quirk married in Wellington so Lomu's father could attend. Photo / Michael Craig

It hasn't been the easiest of father-son relationships, but Jonah Lomu made a heart-warming tribute to his father, Semisi, who died this week after a long battle with diabetes and kidney, liver and heart problems.

"To my dearest Father you will be missed. Words will never do. The family will miss your presence. God has you now. We love you," 38-year-old Lomu tweeted his more than 30,000 followers on Wednesday night.

League stars Manu Vatuvei and Lewis Brown paid their respects. As did NZ netball and Sevens player Kayla McAlister, and old friends Mike King and Monty Betham, who responded: "Thoughts are with you USO. He's in a great place."

Last Friday, Lomu told fans online that he was in hospital with his ailing father who was "as comfortable as can be".

"Just waiting as he is not getting any better," Lomu said. "Heavenly father look after him if you take him soon.

Love you dad."

Cherished words for a relationship often fraught with difficulty. In 2004, Lomu lifted the lid on his upbringing in a biography, Jonah My Story. He detailed how as a 15-year-old he had snapped and thrown his father - who had been drinking - across the room. Semisi disowned him and Lomu moved out of his parents' house.

However, the rift healed and a relationship with father and son grew. In 2011, Lomu married his long-time partner Nadene Quirk in Wellington rather than at their base in France, so Semisi could join the celebration.

Quirk - Lomu's manager and mother of the couple's two children, Brayley and Dhyreille, - acknowledged her husband's heartfelt messages yesterday but told The Diary: "The family don't want to comment at this moment."

Lomu recalled fun, family times on The Rock radio station this week, as he told listeners his youngest son had a penchant for "his mum's Bentley".

"The kids are trying to steal my wife's Bentley! Actually, it's the 2-year-old. He knows he just has to have the key on him, and there's the start button that you just push.

"Me and my wife were just sitting upstairs, thinking everything's pretty quiet, and you know there's something wrong when they're quiet, especially when you have a 2 and a 4-year-old.

"Then, the next minute, the car starts up! I was running around having a look and found my 2-year-old sitting in the driver's seat pretending that he's driving!"

Mayor loving rail boost

Len Brown's trademark enthusiasm has intensified since he was given the thumbs up by the Government on Wednesday over the city rail link. Spies say he burst into the council chamber announcing the news to councillors and local board chairs, with the left-wingers erupting into applause and cheers. The Town Hall drinks trolley was then stocked up and wheeled into the mayor's office.

Today, at the Auckland Chamber of Commerce lunch with John Key at SkyCity, Brown will no doubt give his signatory double-thumbs-up to all, including visiting Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk.

Struggling Labour leader David Shearer won't be enjoying it, as it takes the wind out of his sails 16 months out from the next election, nor will the centre-right councillors, who were hoping for a majority around the council table in October.

Tory councillor Cameron Brewer, who has long challenged the viability of the $2.8 billion project and the mayor's relationship with Wellington, must now wonder if Brown's reign will ever end. Ironically, he only has his own National Party to thank.

Premiere draws stars

It was a multicultural night at the gala premiere of South Pacific Pictures' film White Lies on Wednesday. Mexican screenwriter and director, Dana Rotberg, spoke in Spanish and English, and everyone was welcomed with a stirring karanga from Ngati Whatua, to which Tuhoe responded. Lead actress Whirimako Black was heralded on to the red-carpet by the blowing of a conch shell.

Temuera Morrison, Kirk Torrance and Tim Balme joined the film's leading ladies. So too, Dr Pita Sharples and Dame Jenny Gibbs. Witi Ihimaera, who wrote the novella Medicine Woman on which the film is based, brought his sisters.

Crowe citizenship rejected Kiwi actor Russell Crowe, who lives in Australia and claims to be Australian, has been turned down for Australian citizenship because of an immigration loophole.

Australia changed the citizenship laws 12 years ago and Crowe has not met the criteria for permanent citizenship under the Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (New Zealand citizens) Act 2001, the Daily Telegraph reported yesterday.

Crowe expressed his frustrations this week while plugging his latest blockbuster, Man of Steel, in Sydney.

"There's a whole bunch of New Zealanders who have committed to a life here, who have had children here, who bought their first houses here, who have been productive, taxpaying members of society," he said. "I got a [Centenary of] Federation medal [in 2003]. I was made into a stamp. Until recently I had an Australian wife. I have two Australian children. But I still fall between the cracks."

Cheer up, Rusty. We'll still have you.

A new digital frontier

APN Outdoor will launch New Zealand's first digital billboard on Monday at 350 Queen St. It will be the first of six digital billboards which will run a rotation of six static ads switching out every eight seconds. Auckland Council has given consent, but video content is prohibited, as are flashing lights and sound, so as not to distract passing drivers.

"It will be the highest-resolution LED screen in the country with content and messages that can be changed at any time during the day," APN Outdoor general manager Phil Clemas said.

"There's more flexibility and relevance for the advertiser. It'll be a game-changer."

Content on the billboards is web-connected and can be uploaded quickly. There's no more logistical challenges of printing vinyl skins and climbing ladders. "It means, for example, McDonald's can advertise their breakfast menu in the morning and Big Macs in the afternoon".

Clemas says they're also exploring interactive elements and broader social media campaigns. "Now we can extend the message beyond the screen."

- NZ Herald

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