By PHIL TAYLOR
Jonah Lomu has lifted the lid on his fallout with his father, revealing that any bond was destroyed during a violent confrontation when the All Black star was a teenager.
In his book, Jonah My Story, the winger is understood to talk of a Once Were Warriors-like home life: a history of friction, his love for his mother, Hepi, but a growing hatred for his father, Semisi, who, though hard-working, was a drinker who showed him no love.
The hatred exploded when Jonah was 15. He snapped when his father, who he says had been drinking, went to hit him - again.
The schoolboy, already a hulking figure, threw his father across the room, onto the floor. He threatened his father with retribution if he touched him or the other kids again.
His furious father reacted by telling Lomu he was no longer his son and kicking him out of the family home.
"My father and I disagreed on a lot of things. He was a real heavy drinker and he was getting pretty violent with a lot of us," Lomu said recently. "I'd had enough, so I decided to step up to the plate."
After he was sent from home he stayed with girlfriends and mates during term breaks from boarding school.
Lomu was born at Green Lane Hospital. When aged about 1 he was sent to Tonga to live with relatives of his mother, who brought him up as though he was their son until his parents wanted him to live with them in New Zealand.
He feels he was disowned - particularly by his father's side of the family. His father later found religion and mellowed, but Lomu's resentment grew from a young age.
He didn't want to leave Tonga and the uncle and aunt whom he regarded as his mum and dad, but was made to.
He was named - after the biblical story of the man and the whale - by an aunt, rather than after his paternal grandfather which is Tongan tradition for the first son.
But he was not his father's first son; his father had a child from a previous relationship.
Lomu's failure to invite his parents to his weddings - to first wife Tanya Rutter and current wife Fiona Taylor - made headlines.
But, until now, he has never fully publicly explained the reasons.
Lomu was in his second year at Wesley College just south of Auckland and was home for the holidays when the fight with his father happened.
Home, in those days, was a modest weatherboard state house in the heart of Mangere. It is in stark contrast with the lifestyle Lomu's rugby success has brought the family.
Lomu reveals in his book he turned down a million pounds a season to play for Bristol after his barnstorming performances at the 1999 World Cup.
He now lives in Ponsonby with Fiona Taylor, and has owned mansions in Wellington and Auckland.
Despite the fallout, he has looked after his parents financially. They live on an idyllic property in an exclusive, gated, subdivision of mansions set in a manicured landscape which includes a man-made lake.
And to protect their privacy, the Lomus are listed at the gate under the father's first name, Semisi.
Semisi Lomu declined to comment on issues raised in the book, telling the Herald over the subdivision's intercom that he was busy.
Some believe rugby riches played a part in the continuing rift between father and son. It introduced them to a foreign world, one in which Lomu could make more in a year than his father had in a lifetime working as a mechanic, and distanced the father from his son's life.
Lomu, with his then manager, Phil Kingsley Jones, called the shots.
This would have been difficult for Lomu's father, said Tongan rugby chief executive Sakopo Lolohea. "The Lomus are a very traditional Tongan family. Tongan fathers like to control their sons, make the decisions, even though they are married and grown up."
Along with his troubled relationship with his father, Lomu tells how his mother, school and rugby pulled him from a path that most likely would have led to prison or worse.
Lomu found trouble, like many peers from his part of South Auckland. Drinking, fighting, stealing. Occasionally, he'd arrive home in a police car. His mother saw the writing on the wall. Determined he get a good education, she must have wondered whether he would stay alive long enough.
After his uncle, David Fuko, was hacked to death with a machete in the Otara shopping centre in 1988, Lomu was sent to board to Wesley College, a Methodist school with a reputation for discipline and values.
Collar and tie. Yes sir, no sir. And rugby.
In his last year at the school he was made head boy and captained his rugby team from No 8. Twelve months later he was rampaging down the left wing in a black jersey.