Samuel Campbell Doyle - b 28.01.1970 – d 01.10.2022
Sam Doyle packed everything he could into his 52 years.
As a talented rugby player and remarkable teacher, he had many achievements – but as wife Tracey says, their girls were his greatest pride.
Sam died early on the morning of October 1 after more than two years battling leukaemia. Even as he drifted in and out of consciousness in his finals days, he was able to hear that youngest daughter Raukawa had just won a national speaking competition. He would have been supremely proud.
Sam was the oldest of four children to Bill and Kath Doyle (nee Hakaraia). They say he was a mischevious kid, but naturally talented in just about every endeavour he pursued.
He didn’t start playing rugby seriously until his late teens, but once he did, his talent and work ethic opened opportunities. He almost made it to the All Blacks, playing two trial games.
But in 1996, in the fledgling era of professional rugby, he was a founding player for the Hurricanes. Taken in alphabetical order, he went into the record books as Hurricanes #11. He played alongside players such as Tana Umaga and Filo Tiatia, who both attended his funeral in Ōtaki.
Speaking at the funeral, Tana said Sam was his inspiration. Sam had been offered an All Blacks trial; Tana hadn’t. He said the snub motivated him to work harder, leading him to All Blacks greatness and the captaincy.
Despite his many games for the Māori All Blacks, Wellington, Manawatū and Horowhenua-Kāpiti, Sam’s heart was always with his Ōtaki rugby club, Rāhui.
Sam was also an academic – thoughtful and enjoying the power of words. He wanted to be a teacher, but he took 10 years to complete his training with rugby interfering in his studies. He and his family travelled extensively, even to Spain where Sam played for a season with a Barcelona club team.
Although te reo Māori was not his first language, Sam embraced it and became fluent. It led to his first teaching role at Kura Māori o Porirua, then six years with Te Kura-a-iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano in Ōtaki. For five years he was tumuaki (principal).
He then briefly worked as a senior Māori adviser and as a contractor with the Ministry of Education checking the accuracy of te reo text.
While Tracey and daughters Kara, Kotuku, Wikitoria and Raukawa are now mourning Sam, Tracey still finds time to offer advice to families who might be going through the rigours of serious illness.
“Say ‘yes’ to everything,” she says. “Don’t turn down anything through pride, because you’ll need it.
“The fundraising efforts were a fantastic help. You’ll be offered all sorts of support through the hospital system, including counselling. Someone might offer a stack of firewood, some food, to clean the windows . . . say ‘yes, thank you’.”