Professional news media were told to stop taking photos at the former All Black Sione Lauaki’s burial service this afternoon amid claims they had been banned by the rugby number eight’s family.
Dr Viliami Tūtone, the family’s ‘ulumotu’a (head of Lauaki’s paternal clan) warmly greeted Kaniva Tonga News at the Waikumete cemetery shortly after the arrival of Lauaki’s coffin and informed them about the ban.
It was not immediately clear whether or not the ban included social media as while Dr Tūtone was talking to Kaniva, some of the mourners were busy taking photos at the scene with their cellphones.
Dr Tūtone said he was just doing his job and let us know about the family’s wish. He would not provide any reasons for the ban.
Dr Tutone said the palangi media had been informed.
He asked to respect the family’s decision.
Today’s farewell service at the Glen Eden’s cemetery was attended by hundreds of mourners in a ceremony that began with a religious service at the Te Atu Church Unlimited this morning at 10am.
The Rugby World was represented at the services by Ian Foster.
The memorial service was conducted by the Mo’ui Fo’ou ‘Ia Kalasi church.
Lauaki, 35, died on Sunday after suffering from renal failure and cardiovascular problems.
He was born in June 22, 1981 in Tonga before he relocated to New Zealand when he was eight.