Tokohau Rima Samuels

Submitted by Patricia Carol… on

Tokohau Rima Samuels (1931–1975), known as Sam, was born to Rima and Evelyn Samuels on the 19th November 1931 at Turua, near Thames, New Zealand. He was of Tainui and Whakatohea decent plus European. His childhood was at Kerepehi on the Hauraki Plains near Thames he attended Ngatea District High School where he was a Prefect and Captain of the 1st IV rugby and 1st XI cricket teams.

On leaving school on the 17th March 1951 he enlisted in the New Zealand Army and was posted to Papakura Military Camp as an Infantry Instructor. On the 1st July 1955 he was seconded to the Fiji Military Forces where he saw active service with the Fijian Battalion in Malaya. He quickly set about learning both languages and soon became fluent in Fiji and Malay.

Returning to New Zealand in 1956 he was based at the Army Area Office in Tauranga, where he met Patricia Hancox. They were married on the 8th June 1957 at Papakura, and had three children together, Denise, David and Angela. He was a loving husband and devoted father.

An outdoors man who loved to hunt and fish, he was an active sportsman who enjoyed rugby and individual pursuits like parachuting, where around 1960 he set a free fall Australasian Record. In Papakura he was Drum Major of the local Highland Pipe Band and achieved medals for Mace throwing.

He was a professional soldier where his determination to succeed applied to his everyday work and influenced those he served alongside and taught. There were many postings during his military career including Papakura, Hamilton, Regular Force Cadet School in Waiouru, and 1st Battalion Depot at Burnham Military Camp as Senior Weapons Instructor.

From 1971 to 1972 Tokohau (Sam) saw active service again with the New Zealand Army Training Team Vietnam attached to the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). In Vietnam he was awarded the ‘Vietnamese Certificate of Outstanding Achievement’ for his service in the training of South Vietnamese soldiers and his part in the contact with the Viet Cong enemy:

During the training exercise on June 26th 1972 at YS.358.637, a contact with the VC occurred under the direction and command of WO1 Samuels himself. Result: 2 VC were killed, 2 K 54 and some documents were captured.

A total of 1000 members served with AATTV in Vietnam between 1962 and 1972. This consisted of 990 Australians and 10 New Zealanders. Casualties were recorded as 33 members killed in action and 122 as wounded in action.

On returning to New Zealand in 1972 he was posted to Whanganui and was RSM of 5RNZIR. His health had suffered since his service in Vietnam and in June 1974 he was hospitalised at Whanganui Hospital and diagnosed with terminal cancer of the colon. Tokohau (Sam) died in the Whanganui Hospital on the 5th January 1975 with his wife Patricia at his side. He is buried at the Ex Serviceman’s Cemetery at Papakura in Auckland, New Zealand.

He is survived by his wife Patricia, children Denise David and Angela, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.



Patricia Carol Heaven

How to cite this page: ' Tokohau Rima Samuels ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 31-Oct-2019