Jonah Lomu's health scare has highlighted a reluctance among Pacific Islanders to receive life-saving organ transplants, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs says.
"There's the belief that God made you, your body's sacred and you should be buried with it all intact,' ministry chief executive Dr Colin Tukuitonga said.
"The Jonah Lomu situation has drawn attention because of who he is, he's Tongan and has trouble with his kidneys."
Tukuitonga believes Pacific Islanders and Maori need more information on the benefits of organ donation and transplantation.
He had seen the reluctance first-hand while practising medicine in Fiji and Niue, and as a GP in Auckland.
"It's because of religious and cultural beliefs and a certain amount of ignorance."
The Pacific Island community was more at risk of diabetes and kidney failure, Auckland City Hospital renal transplant specialist Ian Dittmer said.