'Niece' of All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu faces life in jail for importing meth

The woman found guilty of importing methamphetamine after New Zealand's largest meth bust is from a prominent rugby family and was the 'niece' of All Blacks great Jonah Lomu.

Selaima Fakaosilea faces life imprisonment for importing 501kg of meth to Northland's Ninety Mile Beach, after being found guilty alongside Stevie Norua Cullen in the High Court in Whangārei.

It is a big fall from grace for the mother-of-one, who comes from a proud sporting family and was a relative of late rugby star Lomu.

Fakaosilea, who was herself a promising athlete, referred to Lomu as 'uncle' – although technically he was her first cousin once removed.

She is now awaiting sentencing for importing meth and participating in an organised criminal group – which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

​But her family – including her brother Lolo Fakaosilea, who is a prominent Australian professional rugby player now playing in Japan – still stands behind the 30-year-old.

"I am 100 per cent in full support of my sister and will continue to be throughout this whole process," Lolo said.

Despite older brother Ulakai Fakaosilea pleading guilty to his role in the Ninety Mile Beach case, the family were considering an appeal for Selaima after sentencing, Lolo said.

"My brother pleaded guilty, so in terms of what he's done it's already been settled – at the moment we're just trying to deal with my sister's case," he said.

Sentencing was due to be held on Friday but was delayed until next month.

Selaima, also known as Selina or by the family nickname "Ima", was born in Auckland's Ōtāhuhu to parents of Tongan heritage.

Rugby was in the blood, with father Seiana Fakaosilea playing for the Auckland Blues team and representing the inaugural New Zealand Tongan First XV. 

Selaima's mother, Sela Tutuila, was Lomu's first cousin.

Lolo refers to Lomu as 'uncle', saying he was someone he idolised from young.

But Lolo and his siblings did not have a lot to do with their famous uncle, with their parents distancing themselves from the hype of Lomu's fame.

"For myself, he played a big role because of the influence he had on the game [of rugby] but it was never pushed on us by my family."

Lolo said the family moved to Australia while the children were still young.

Selaima went to school in Brisbane and was "very smart", he said. 

She was also a talented sportswoman, playing rugby and successfully playing netball to representative level.

But, as the oldest of six children, Selaima had to put aside a potential netball career – and her back-up plan of being a flight attendant – to look after her four youngest siblings, Lolo said.

"Her main plan was to become a netballer but she had to give that up when my parents split up [in her last year of high school]."

Lolo admitted the situation was difficult for Selaima, who had a lot of pressure on her shoulders and never got to enjoy her party years.

"She had a future ahead of her and she gave it all up to look after us," he said. "I sort of feel guilty in a way ... The way things turned out is unfortunate."

Lolo said Selaima was his "number one supporter", driving him to all his rugby games.

The persistence paid off when Lolo became a professional rugby player, first for the Queensland Reds, then for the Brumbies. He now plays for the Kintetsu Liners in Japan.

Lolo named his daughter after Selaima as a sign of appreciation for her motherly input and said he would never be ashamed of his sister.

"She's done a lot for me and I'll always be there to support her."

Selaima was a solo mother in Brisbane, but came over to New Zealand in 2016 to help care for her elderly grandparents, he said.

Her arrest and imprisonment in late 2016 caused significant pain in the family, and forced her mother, daughter and sister to move from Brisbane to Auckland to be closer to her.

"It's taken a huge toll – it's put a lot of pressure on everyone," Lolo said.

It also meant she was also not able to come to Japan to see her newborn nephew, Lolo's son, but she had been visited by her namesake in prison.

Jonah Lomu's widow Nadene did not respond to Stuff's questions or request for an interview.