A Northland kaumātua is refusing to give up his years-long quest for an official apology to the generation beaten as children for speaking te reo at school.
Dover Samuels, however, says he is glad to have lived long enough to see a 180-degree turnaround in attitudes to te reo and grateful to the young generation, Māori and non-Māori, for embracing the language.
Samuels (Ngāti Kura) went to Waiharara Native School at Matauri Bay in the 1940s, a time when children were beaten with a supplejack cane if they were heard speaking Māori on the school grounds.
The only Pākehā there were the teacher, his wife and their young children.
''He was a very tall, very athletic man, and very powerful with the swing of the cane. I remember distinctly. Many of us wore short trousers, we didn't have underpants. We were not only bruised, it sometimes drew blood,'' Samuels said.
''When you had to bend down and get six of the best in front of your own class you dare not say anything. You had to hold back your tears because that was to show a sign of weakness.''
It was not just a matter of what would now be considered physical abuse, he said.
By depriving children of their own language — in some cases the only language they knew — it was the beginning of a disempowerment that would have far-reaching consequences, including the loss of identity, culture and land.
Samuels, a former Māori Affairs Minister who now lives in Kerikeri, first called for an apology at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing in 2015.
Labour's Māori Caucus drafted an apology to be added to a Māori Language Bill making its way through Parliament at the time, though when it passed into law it included an acknowledgment of the detrimental effects of past policies on te reo but no apology.
An apology now would sadly come too late for many of his generation who had been beaten for no crime other than speaking their language, but at least the whakaiti (shame) of the Crown would be on the record.
''It seems apologies are coming left, right and centre — and well deserved too for our Pacific brothers and sisters — but I would have thought the injustice that was caused deliberately by the Crown to the tangata whenua of their own country would have been a priority. There's always been a reluctance to turn over the stone.''
Samuels said the apology should come from the Governor-General as the representative of the monarchy.
While he hoped he'd still be breathing when the apology came he was grateful to have lived long enough to see a complete change in attitudes to te reo.
Now, instead of being suppressed, it was taught at kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and universities.
''I'm privileged to witness the whole 180-degree turnaround. It has resonated with a younger generation of New Zealanders who are actively learning te reo because they see it as a taonga, a way of expressing their New Zealand identity. I want to thank them and pay tribute to those who have taken up the challenge.
''When I see someone of Caucasian colour stand in the marae and do a mihi and a whakataukī it gives me goosebumps, like watching the haka performed for an international audience. It makes me so proud.''
The policy of punishing children for speaking te reo is sometimes defended by people who say Māori themselves asked authorities to force their children to speak English, to give them the best opportunities in a Pakehā world.
Samuels said he had never heard such a request in his Ngāti Kura community.
''I think anyone who says the right thing to do is to leave your culture and language needs to see a psychiatrist and understand the history of New Zealand.''
Samuels' journey in te reo started with his grandparents and the environment he grew up in.
After being caned for speaking Māori at primary school he was required to sit exams in French or Latin at college, which he regarded as the height of hypocrisy.
After travelling overseas for a time he realised he had to return to his marae to rejuvenate his reo.
''But once I heard it again it all came back to me.''
Some New Zealanders didn't understand the value of te reo or felt they were being subjected ''to some kind of racial compulsion'' because of the language's increasing prominence.
Referencing the biblical conversion of St Paul, Samuels said: ''People like that are often on a road to Damascus in the journey of life. Even though the sun is shining they want to live in the dark. But all of a sudden they see the light.''