Jonah Lomu’s widow has lashed out online in the latest episode of a long-running saga over who owns her late husband’s trademark as a documentary about the sports star’s life has been green-lighted and will be directed by a Tongan film maker.
On the eighth anniversary of the global rugby superstar’s death, Nadene Lomu took to Facebook to post her anguish and claimed she was being disrespected and bullied.
“Your Estate and Your Legacy we worked so hard together leaving it for your sons and I continue to protect,” she wrote in the Facebook Reels post, in text overlaid with pictures of their family.
“It’s been a trip to hell and back since the day you left us devastated... the continued lies, deceit and the wicked continuing to exploit you and your legacy. I will never stop defending your legacy from all those that disrespect you and us who you loved most.
“If only you were here Jonah, nobody would have ever treated your sons and I the way we’ve been bullied to try to take what is ours.
“We will always love and miss you. We will never stop standing for what you wanted us to fight for and the truth.”
The Herald has approached Nadene for comment about the post.
Lomu’s lawyer Chris Darlow - who was left in charge of the Lomu finances - told the Herald he is applying to have Nadene’s trademarks cancelled and confirmed the documentary has been given the go-ahead.
“Jonah died insolvent,” Darlow said. “There was a payout from a film production a few years back which got distributed to Mrs Lomu (Nadene).”
The relationship between Nadene and Darlow has been fraught, encompassing disputes over trademarks and intellectual property as well as ownership of two associated companies. While it’s unclear who is the target of the post, Nadene has recently been battling with the NZ Film Commission over the documentary.
In September, Nadene wrote a cease-and desist letter to the film commission, claiming she has sole rights to his story.
Darlow said the Jonah Lomu life story documentary was a legacy project he had been wanting since the rugby star’s untimely death.
“This has been a labour of love and I have wanted to see the definitive story of Jonah told in a proper way. The people who are producing this documentary are top shelf. It’s going to be a fantastic piece of work and will do justice for Jonah’s memory.”
Lomu died eight years ago of complications related to his kidney condition. Before his death he signed over his rugby legacy to his young sons, Brayley and Dhyreille, in his will.
But he appointed Darlow - rather than his wife - in control of his finances, including trademarks, property and any other wealth, to be administered for the benefit of the two boys.
Well-known Auckland-based Tongan director/writer Vea Mafile’o - known for directing the Panther and 2019 movie My Father’s Kingdom - said she was excited, and being a Tongan made this even more important.
“I am very excited - especially being Tongan, and its about time,” Mafile’o told the Herald.
Mafile’o said Lomu not only changed the face of rugby globally but paved the way for Pasifika players.
“We really haven’t had a chance to celebrate Jonah and hopefully the film will have a fresh perspective,” she said.
“We need to celebrate Jonah Lomu, not just as Tongans, but as Pasifika because he changed so much for the world of rugby.”
Mafile’o said the film is still in its closing stage - meaning timelines have been set.
“So I don’t have any set deadlines that I can give you because it still in the process of closing,” she said.
“It’s going to be exciting times. This is a celebration.”
Nadene told friends and family in a Facebook post that she supported the “tireless and honest work” of the NZ Film Commission and had said as much in her letters to them.
“The letters I wrote were from myself directly to the parties as my concerns are, and have always been, the protection of Jonah’s and my children.
“In saying that, I have no idea on what the storyline or direction of this documentary is taking or where the research has come from, nor has anyone in this process paid attention to see if there are any legal or copyright infringements.”
A producer of the documentary, Emma Slade, told the Herald in September they had been in conversations with the family since last year, and would not have any further comments until the discussions were complete.