Some childhood memories last forever. For Riwhi Toi Whenua, it was the day the state removed him from his father.
Eighteen months ago he joined Ngā Morehu, survivors of state abuse, to break the silence on the horrors of state institutions. Mr Toi Whenua says his Kohitere home was worse than jail, and those in charge did horrific things to the children.
- Four former wards of the state share their horrific stories of abuse
- 'Ngā Wāhine Mōrehu' - four women who survived abuse in state care
Those harrowing stories touched the hearts of many New Zealanders, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who later met him at Parliament.
Mr Toi Whenua, who was taken from his father's care following the death of his mother, has only ever wanted the state to apologise. But he's running out of time - his dad Peter Ryder is in hospital care, suffering from dementia and unlikely to see the end of the inquiry.
Mr Toi Whenua had hoped that one day the state would apologise to his father for removing his sons. Sadly the royal commission of inquiry will come too late for Mr Ryder - Mr Toi Whenua says he will miss out.
So The Hui arranged for a message to be taken to the Ryder whānau instead.
In the message directed to Mr Ryder, Ms Ardern expresses her personal apology to Mr Ryder. After showing his father the message, Mr Toi Whenua believes he was able to understand.
The inquiry is expected to take five years, and Mr Toi Whenua hopes it will consider the wider consequence of institutionalising children and the generational damage it has done to thousands of families, like the Ryders.