Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sam Sampson

Dominion Post 13/12/2008:

SAMPSON Charles William. "Sam the Fluid Druid of Stewart Island"._Sam passed away peacefully at home with friends on Monday 8th December 2008, at Stewart Island, aged 65 years.Privately cremated. Sam would like to welcome all his friends and colleagues to a memorial service to celebrate his life at the Stewart Island Community Hall on Monday 15th December at 2:00pm.Messages to PO Box 65, Stewart Island, New Zealand.Avenal Park Funeral.

One of our original kiwi folkies back in the 60s.She'll be right mate!
Robyn Park
I was sorry to hear of Sam's passing. I recall the times at Frank & Mary Fye's Balladeer coffee lounge in Willis Street around 1965, when Sam would appear, pretty much fresh from the bush & perform his own & collected poems. I believe he was an avid tramper & tall stories, poems & songs were often shared in tramping huts. Sam has now joined those other loved & missed performers of that era: Frank F, Max Winnie & Warwick Brock...Boy, that place fair hummed at times, with others too, such as Val Murphy, Frank Povah, Ron Davis, Joan Prior & Bill Taylor, not forgetting Mitch Park & others who's names slip my mind.

Rest in peace, Sam.
Best...Dave Hart
Al and I remember Sam Sampson from the days of the sixties.He was a regularperformer at The Devonport FC when it was held in the Church Street churchhall and also the Wynyard Tavern. A compelling performer, he stays vividlyalive for me because of his incandescent singing of The Lags Song. So passionate a rendering. It was astounding singing to me, just a youngteenager then.
We were also fond of his hairy mein and roman sandals/black seaman's jerseypersona. Al's mum came across him recently in Stewart Island, he was a tour guide and noted character down that way. By his look and his singing Jean Young asked if he knew of the DFMC and he remembered many of us by name and fondly recalled his times in the clubs and parties of Auckland. A true original who lived life to his own prescription, he is fondly remembered by us and, I'm sure, many others who came across him.
Beverly Young
Very sad news indeed. Sam hadn't been well for some time, but his demise was still somewhat unexpected.
Sam Sampson was one of Folk Music's great characters with his big black bushy beard, booming voice and enthusiastic persona and a lovely bloke to boot. He will be fondly remembered by many for his contributions to the folk scene by way of singing Peter Cape songs, which one could almost swear were written especially for and about him.
Sam and I became good mates over the years and I managed to spend time with him on Stewart Island on a number of occasions and certainly whenever I was performing in the area. I doubt if I would have ever sung on the Island as many times as I did, if it hadn't have been for Sam's ongoing support and encouragement. He was a keen tramper and knew many bawdy tramping songs from his days as a member of the Victoria University Tramping Club, going on to spend some time as an outdoor pursuits teacher at Rotoiti and later Tautuku during the 1970s & 80s.
From all accounts school kids absolutely adored him. He used to visit my family in Chch regularly back then and and my kids loved hearing his bedtime stories, which he spontaneously composed, weaving each of their names into the tales and stories he was telling. Sam collected many yarns, stories and songs along the way and was happy to share them with anyone who was interested. he manage to incorporate some of these into his spiel while transportng tourists around his beloved Stewart Island. N.Z. Folklore Society archives have preserved a few of his observations and verses etc.... some of which will appear in my forthcoming book "Faces in the Firelight."
I have many stories to share about me old mate, but this one in particular truly resonated with me. In my collecting/songcatching capacity, I often asked Sam to record some of his Kiwi songs for posterity, but he always declined saying he wasn't ready yet. One day in the early 1980s he arrived on my doorstep clutching a large bottle of whisky and announced himself by saying "Phil I'm ready mate, do your thing!" I spent the next few hours recording every Kiwi song he could remember punctuated by copious swigs from the bottle........It became a very special evening. That invaluable tape is now in N.Z. folklore archives. I'm really going to miss Sam and his spontaneous phone calls from Stewart Island whenever he'd had a few too many drams. This world is a far worse place without his presence.
You may have gone mate but not forgotten!
RIP Sam Sampson
Phil Garland
Likewise, I am saddened to hear news of Sam's passing.
Compared to others on this list, I had only a short-term acquaintance with Sam, comprising some long whisky-fueled phone calls and a visit to his Oban abode in January 2007. We were there on Stewart Island to do some tramping and learned from Sam how he'd helped pioneer the epic northwest circuit route back in the 1970-80s, cutting the track and helping with the hut construction. Just another string to his bow.
Sam told us an interesting anecdote about the 1960s folk scene. Apparently there was a folk concert in the Wellington Town Hall for the benefit of theNZ Folklore Society in the mid-late-1960s. The concert was being live broadcast on 2YA. All was going well until Sam stepped up and launched into"Kiwi Keith's Back Again", his own piece about Keith Holyoake being re-elected in 1966. As lines such as "Since Holyoake's been elected / Thepoor will be neglected / We'll be standing on the breadlines once again" resounded around the hall, the radio broadcast mysteriously ran intotechnical difficulties and could not be resumed. Perhaps others may know more about this case of state censorship of NZ folk music...?
Michael Brown
After getting computer sorted and catching up on messages feel I have to express my sadness at Sam's passing. Like others on the list I too have so many memories of the man and they will stay forever.
Briefly I would like to share a couple with the list. Sam was a frequent visitor to home and also to my mother to whom he was unfailing kind and gentlemanly (I realise that this may surprise some who knew him as a larger than life character). My mother liked him immensly along with some others no longer with us eg; Brockie. Frank Fyfe. She enjoyed his company and I would find them both in animated discussion laughing and smiling - she always said Sam was so good to see.
Personally my favourite memory comes from a time in the early 1990's when I was working as a salesman for one of the North Canterbury Wineries making sales trips arond the South Island. On one of those trips I was in Invercargill and had called into the Hotel/Restaurant opposite the railway station. I was in the main entrance to the Hotel concluding a good sale when the door behind me from the street opened and a familiar voice asked if a room was available. Upon being asked by the manager what was he doing there the reply came that he had just flown over from Stewart to collect his tax refund from 3 years before! I turned round saying, "Gidday Sam" whereupon his reply was, "Good grief ! A little Garland - what are you doing here " . As a result Sam took me out to dinner that night at a upmarket restaurant and insisted on paying pointing out he could afford it. Sadly that was the last time I saw him altho' like Phil I did receive those spontaneous phone calls from time to time. I'll miss him.
Mike Garland


katlaughing said...

I only knew Sam, "virtually" through the Mudcat Cafe Folk Music site at, but he made a lasting impression, signed in as "Billy the Bus." He had a larger than life unique way of getting his point across and telling stories. I felt I was right there on the tour of Stewart Island with him at the helm when he told us about it. I feel a great sadness at his passing and regret that I will never be able to meet him in the 3D world. Thanks for this blog and for your memories of this memorable character named Sam.

katlaughing(not right now!)

Mike M. said...

Thanks Kat, nice to know Sam had such a wide circle of friends.

Mark Hepleston said...

My name is Mark Heppleston. I am Sam's only Nephew. I live in Sydney, but on hearing the news that Sam had incurable cancer, or as I knew him.. "Uncle Charlie"... last year, went for my first trip to Stewart Island to see him after nearly two decades. My mother and my now wife Melanie also traveled to see him and he took us on his final tour of the Island. Stunning, peaceful and perhaps the nicest place on earth.

Although we'd never been close in distance, I was always proud of Uncle Charlie's love for nature and creatures, which I in turn have inherited. He never wanted to visit Auckland where I grew up very much as the city scared him. He did however, embrace technology and was very proud of my ventures to this end.

When we saw him his mood changed and he was very happy to spend time albeit pretty much bed ridden, with us all! We shared a red wine (albeit cask), and a Winfield red cigarette (not that I smoke).

He told me to be good to my lovely wife, to NEVER start smoking, and too look to the stars one day as he'll be looking down on us!

I love you Uncle Charlie and miss you very much. Mum only told me of his passing after our honeymoon ended yesterday and it is great to know his friends were there and he had so many friends.

Love you forever Uncle Charlie.

Mark & Annette and Melanie Heppleston

Samnaki said...

What a shock to stumble accross the news that cousin Sam has passed away, I will always remember my last meeting with him 2 years ago when Jean and i were in Invercargill I met Sam at the clinic had my photo taken with him and drove him to the hospital for treatment. We spoke about the farm at Sentry Hill and about people who should be huntered out and added to the Sampson Family Tree
Cousin Colin

Frank Povah said...

I'm just getting my own Blog together and I came across this. I knew and admired Sam, we were alike in many ways, yet so different in others: Sam had far more patience than I did at the time I knew him. The last I heard from him was an out-of-the-blue email from Stewart (where I also lived at one time) and it lifted my spirits so much to know that he still thought of me. We're leaving one by one, we old timers, but the messages left here make me think that perhaps we DID accomplish a few things. See you there, Sam me old china. Frank Povah - the Paddimelon's Blog

Frank Povah said...

Oldtimer's disease has struck again! Sigh - anyway I've corrected the web link here.

To add to Sam's story. At one time I was working on a dairy/vegetable (tomatoes and murphies) farm just out of Blenheim. Sam was in the area too, living in a caravan. I think he may have been teaching at a local school – I'm not sure about this, it was a long time ago – but I do know that he was also monitoring water quality in the local creeks and rivers, running around looking scientific and putting electronic probes into the water twice a day. He had an intense interest in natural history and the sciences.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got that email from him, but not that he was living on Rakiura, Stewart Island and Sam were made for each other - the Stewart Island I knew back in the 60s, at least.

Frank Povah

jaf said...

Sorry to hear of Sam's passing almost a year after the event. Sam and I only ever corresponded online. He used some software I wrote to help create his web sites, fired some questions at me and once we discovered we were both from Oban (although I originated in the Scottish one) a bond was stuck. I was to have been one of the stopping places for the bottle of whisky he planned to send round the world.

I fondly remember the photo he sent via email of himself dressed as Santa raising a glass... I think that's how I started the new Millenium. I still have it somewhere, several computers later.

A true character, sorry to hear he's gone. He will be remembered by all that met him (even virtually)