Mourning in New Zealand

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

A reader flags an emotional story:

Rugby legend Jonah Lomu (and by legend, I mean Pele and Jordan don’t really measure up; a Kiwi co-worker struggled to describe Lomu’s sporting dominance and cultural importance) died a few weeks ago at age 40 of a longstanding kidney disease that had brought his career to a premature end. During play he was a cannonball of concentrated violence, but after the whistle and off the field, he was warmth, honor, and kindness itself.

At his funeral, his teammates performed a haka for him. Then, shown [in the video above], his friends did. It’s magnificent; both personal and generous; religious in a way rarely seen. The Deadspin comments are mostly worthwhile—NZers weighing and explaining the chants, and watchers pointing out touching details, such as the friend performing his haka from a wheelchair.

The top comment: “This grown-ass man is fighting off tears watching grown-ass men dancing in tribute while fighting off tears...” More on Lomu’s legacy:

Lomu made his All Blacks debut at the age of 19 years and 45 days, against France in Christchurch in 1994, breaking a record that had stood for 90 years to become New Zealand’s youngest Test player. He was taken to the World Cup a year later as something of a wildcard pick by coach Laurie Mains, a decision he would not regret. Lomu scored seven tries in total – four during that semi-final win over England – as the All Blacks reached the final, where they eventually succumbed to the host nation [South Africa].

One of those tries was “a bullocking rampage through, not past, several England players at the 1995 World Cup,” recently voted the greatest in World Cup history. It’s at the 1:00 mark: