This story could be upsetting and confronting for some readers.

Three months after a West Auckland woman died in bed suddenly with her 3-day-old baby - leaving six other children without a mother - her bereft family are still in the dark about what caused the tragedy.

Most of the family never even met the new baby, seeing him only in the casket he shared with his 27-year-old mother or in photos taken at the funeral home.

Multiple investigations are under way into the deaths - and the care Emerald Tai received before she was found dead on March 16 alongside her baby boy, Tanatui Samuels.


The newborn and mum were found unresponsive in bed by her partner, also named Tanatui Samuels.

Police said in March there were no suspicious circumstances.

Kelston double death: Six children left without a mother, family reeling
Kelston double death: Police rule out foul play in death of mum, newborn

This week for the first time Tai's mother, Susan Fa'amoe, felt strong enough to speak about the tragedy and pay tribute to her daughter and the grandson she loved with all of her heart but never met.

"She was too young to die … life is very hard without her," Fa'amoe said.

"Emerald was a wonderful person, she had a good life and she really did have a lot to live for - she had a long life ahead of her.

"She was such a joyful person and it was a blessing to have her in our lives."

Emerald Tai and her partner Tanatui Samuels. The pair welcomed their seventh child together on March 13 - and three days later Tai and the newborn died suddenly. Photo / Supplied
Emerald Tai and her partner Tanatui Samuels. The pair welcomed their seventh child together on March 13 - and three days later Tai and the newborn died suddenly. Photo / Supplied

It was after she finished work late on Friday, March 13, that Fa'amoe found out her daughter had given birth to baby number seven.


It was 11.30pm, she was exhausted, and because she was working all weekend she was keen to get home to bed - but she promised she would get around to see her daughter when she got home with the baby.

"I said I would come and see them the next week and bring something for baby," she said.

"They went home on Saturday but no one rang to say she was out of hospital.

"I didn't think anything of it though and I went to work on Monday and my sister came to see me there at 11am and told me my daughter had died."

Tai is survived by six other children - aged 12, 9, 8, 3, 2 and 1.

A week before she gave birth to Tanatui she had a small birthday party for her then-youngest son.


"The last time I saw her was the week before she died - her other baby turned 1 and we went around on the Saturday to take a present," said Fa'amoe.

"She was tired [because she was heavily pregnant] but she was good, she was happy … I never thought that would be the last time …"

Fa'amoe said Samuels was the one who discovered his partner and baby dead - and ran from the house screaming for help.

Emergency services arrived soon after.

"I had to go and identify my daughter [in the morgue]," said Fa'amoe.

"I was only allowed to identify Emerald because I had never seen my grandson … I didn't ever get to see him alive, I only got to see him at the funeral parlour, I never knew until then what he looked like.

"Tana had to identify baby … I never met him."


Fa'amoe doesn't even have a photograph of her grandson alive, just one of him in a white casket with his mother.

The deaths of Tai and the baby are before the Coroner and an investigation into how and why they died is ongoing.

Emerald Tai and her childhood sweetheart and father of her seven children Tanatui Samuels. Photo / Supplied
Emerald Tai and her childhood sweetheart and father of her seven children Tanatui Samuels. Photo / Supplied

Dr Rob Sherwin, the Auckland District Health Board's director of womens health, confirmed a second and separate investigation was also being conducted.

"We were very saddened to learn of the deaths earlier this year and have great sympathy for their whānau," he said.

"We understand how very distressing it can be when there is a tragic outcome for loved ones.

"The cases are currently with the Coroner so we are unable to provide further comment at this time except to confirm that as with any unexpected event for a mother and baby, we are taking this extremely seriously and are fully investigating the care that was given.


"The review process aims to place the patient and whānau members at the centre to help them and us understand what happened, and to ensure that as an organisation we have the correct systems and processes in place to support our highly skilled staff to do their best work for our patients and families."

Sherwin said DHB representatives had spoken with Tai's family.

"We will be meeting with them to discuss the findings of the review once it is complete and to answer their questions which we have incorporated into the review," he said.

The DHB investigation into the deaths is a "standard process for any unexpected event for a mother and baby".

"The purpose of the review is to understand if there is anything that we could have done differently, and to ensure we have the right systems and processes in place to support high-quality care.

"The review panel includes an external reviewer."

Mum of seven Emerald Tai would have turned 28 on June 15. Photo / Supplied
Mum of seven Emerald Tai would have turned 28 on June 15. Photo / Supplied

Sherwin confirmed staffing numbers on the maternity ward were "adequate" when Tai was in hospital.


Fa'amoe had not spoken to Samuels at length about what happened between leaving the hospital and the deaths.

She said he was overwhelmed by grief and had moved from the house where his love and baby died.

But he had told her that Tai was not feeling well after she left hospital.

"She didn't leave her bed after she got home," Fa'amoe said.

"That plays on my mind so much, I keep thinking about what went wrong, I feel so guilty because I wasn't there to help her and I didn't know what was going on.

"If I had just gone around there, I could have protected her… if I had known she was not feeling well I could have gone there on Saturday."


Tai and Samuels had been together for 16 years after meeting at Avondale College.

Fa'amoe told the Herald that her daughter had a good pregnancy with Tanatui, but was having regular injections for low iron levels.

"She was healthy throughout," she said.

"The baby was healthy too, nine pounds [4kg]."

Now Samuels was raising his family alone and he was consumed with sadness.

"He's doing a really good job with the kids, but he is grieving, he is struggling with that … he often just sits in the garage, staring at the wall, thinking about her," she said.

"He is lost in his own world, he misses Emerald every day … "

Samuels did not respond to the Herald, but posted a message online on Sunday.

Emerald Tai was one of 10 children and is sadly missed. Photo / Supplied
Emerald Tai was one of 10 children and is sadly missed. Photo / Supplied

"Me and the kids love you and miss you too much," he said.

"Our love to you is painful cause your presence is not around anymore and nothing will ever be the same because I have lost the most beautiful woman in the world.

"I'm trying my hardest to look after the babies ... I miss you my love."

Tai and her son were cremated together and their ashes sit on a table in Fa'amoe's dining room.

A photograph of Tai, her face beaming with a broad smile, and candles are positioned around the black box - the only thing Fa'amoe has left of her daughter.

"It's been a big loss for me ... I always think about her, all the time," Fa'amoe said, looking over at the simple shrine.

"I always kiss her photo, I talk to her ... No mother should ever have to bury their children before themselves, it should have been me lying there, not my daughter.

"If I could trade places with her, I would … Emerald shouldn't be where she is, she shouldn't have died."


Fa'amoe had to take a loan out to pay for the cremations and soon after the deaths her husband lost his job due to the pandemic.

Since then she had been struggling to support her family and grandchildren but made sure she took as much as she could to Samuels including nappies and groceries.

She said the stress and grief was overwhelming most days.

"I think about this all the time - at work, all day, every day. It's hard to concentrate when you know that you have lost someone like this," she said.

"Emerald was such a wonderful person, she was always happy, she was always bubbly, she would do anything for people."

Tai is the second of Fa'amoe's 10 children and was a much-loved sibling.

"She was always a happy, outgoing girl - she loved life, she lived life," her mother smiled.


According to the Ministry of Health new mums and parents can do a number of things to keep babies safe during their first 6 weeks.

It says immunising babies on time, choosing to breastfeed if possible and having a smokefree home and car is important.


"Make sure that your baby is enrolled with a general practice, a Well Child Tamariki Ora service and the Community Oral Health Service," the ministry urges on its website.

"Immunisation helps to protect your baby from serious diseases and from dying suddenly in their sleep. Immunisations are free and start at six weeks of age.

"A smokefree home and car helps to protect your baby from chest infections, glue ear, asthma and dying suddenly in their sleep."

It also advises that if a mother or baby is sick or there are any concerns about health, people should contact their midwife or Healthline on 0800 611 116.

"Or take them to their doctor or practice nurse. Get help quickly from a doctor or phone 111 if your baby shows any of the danger signs."

Danger signs include being unable to rouse or wake the baby; convulsions, fits, floppiness; severe tummy pain; unusual, high pitched, weak or continuous cries; hot or cold temperatures; difficulty breathing; change in skin colour or rash; vomiting or diarrhoea.