It was all about a new day dawning.
It was there in the waiata which opened the first real hearing of the Royal Commission into abuse in care.
And again when lawyer Annette Sykes had her turn to speak, reflecting on the clear skies which brightened as she drove to Auckland to speak for survivors.
"The universe is telling us we are beginning a moment in history today," she said.
It was there in the business of the Royal Commission, this crisp and fresh clean slate moment in a window-less room on the first floor of a hotel in central Auckland.
The five Royal Commissioners for the first time are eyeball to eyeball, kanohi ki te kanohi, with those representing the organisations responsible for the care of children who were abused by those entrusted with their care.
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It was described as a "procedural hearing"; small first steps in a marathon journey through the lives of more than 100,000 children in care between 1950 and 1999, and beyond.
"Procedural" means dickering over the process. It's as if the Royal Commission was setting a table, a place for each invited guest.
The Crown was there, the Catholic and Anglican churches, the Salvation Army - pointing the commissioners to wrinkles in the tablecloth to be ironed flat before the first course arrived.
There are many, many more seats at this table than immediately apparent. Others will come, not least the children whose stories created the appetite for a process with three years and four months to run.
It's a long time until they get to the main course. By the end, some will be sick to their stomachs. Justice is a glutton and it has been starved by history.
The commission is a nervous creature. It has yet to visibly assert its inherent powers and the process here is carefully stage-managed.
Each of the five commissioners take turns at delivering prepared opening statements - former judge and governor general Sir Anand Satyanand, legal academic Dr Anaru Erueti, former Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson, lawyer and former Families Commissioner Sandra Alofivae, Judge Coral Shaw.
They offer welcome, describe the format, support which will be available, provide definitions of legal terms, forecast future meetings in community hall and marae (rather than this hotel out back of Auckland District Court with its bottles of "premium water" and logo-bearing notepads).
Careful steps, tentative, under a huge burden. The scope of the Royal Commission is enormous, and it has grown since inception to become the largest in New Zealand's history, and the broadest of its sort in comparable countries.
It has become big enough, unwieldy enough, to see Satyanand resign. Too far to go and too much to carry at age 75, he said. He leaves in November. Those spoken to by the Herald who might be considered suitable to take on the role recognise the need yet balk at the prospect.
There are small teething issues. The sign language interpreters stumbled when unscripted te reo was spoken. They forged on, brilliantly and bravely finding ways to work around the language barrier. Careful stage management never captures every detail.
There are also big teething issues. Judge Coral Shaw spoke of a legal assistance fund which was still "being finalised" - extraordinary given the Department of Internal Affairs' dithering over legal funding placed at least one lawyer at a separate inquiry under extreme financial pressure.
Lawyers for those appearing before the Royal Commission took turns at the podium. They greeted survivors, described their organisations and pledged cooperation. The Catholic and Anglican churches then qualified the degree to which it could be offered.
There were no apparent barriers from the Crown or the Salvation Army, which have waived confidentiality around secret settlements previously struck.
The proof will be in the pudding. Dark secrets buried so long never emerge easily.
The commissioners ironed out wrinkles - how privacy of survivors would work, how confidentiality orders would be made, how information would be made available before hearings, when its hearings would be, whether there would a lawyer appointed to represent those without a voice.
Lawyer Sonja Cooper - who represents more than 1000 survivors - beamed in from Wellington. Her words offered a caution.
"The state has received additional funding to receive additional funding to present its case to the Royal Commission. Survivors do not have the same access to these resources."
Cooper, who has dedicated her practice to the cause for 17 years, told the Royal Commission her firm had databases often better than the state's, and Cooper Legal could help "join the dots".
There was also the likelihood the inquiry will need to sprawl outside its bounds.
"We also want you to meet some of our younger clients," she said. "Some of the worst experiences we have seen occurred after 2010."
Sykes offered advice on tikanga and the particular role of Māori, and signalled to the Royal Commission the difficulties of drawing in survivors of state abuse.
"Men especially, who have been incarcerated for significant periods, struggle to seek engagement, even with their own counsel, even with Māori counsel."
Yet there was optimism. As the sun lightened the sky that morning, she listened as she drove to radio reports of a new direction for our prisons, which are disproportionately filled with Māori. The same over-representation occurred with state care - in 1979, 89 per cent of those in the notorious Hokio Boys' School were Māori.
"It is a huge opportunity and the sun is shining on Aotearoa to remember all the beauty that it is, and all the beauty we want for all of the members of our society.
"I am hoping Māori especially will take the opportunity because we have been diminished by the processes which have silenced us."
Satyanand closed the hearing, marking it as an "important step in the Royal Commission's life". It was a step onto a springboard, launching forward to public hearings at the end of October when we begin to get to the heart of the matter.
The commissioners left but everybody else hung about for a bit. It had taken so very long to get here, and nothing much happened, so the milling about seemed as much about people prolonging the moment and feeling the space as it did chit-chat.
"It's daunting," Erueti admitted later. "It's such a broad mandate. We only have three years and four months to do our work. We're just going to have to do the best we can do."
Erueti is sitting down to do an interview. This is unusual for someone sitting on a Royal Commission yet reflects an awareness of a need to connect - with the public, with the survivors. It needs to be seen as approachable, as effective, as doing something. It needs traction.
He wonders, do people out there think the commissioners look like members of a blue chip board? "We need to put more of a human face ... to bring out more who we are."
The Royal Commission is also feeling its way, unsure exactly what it is heading into. And nervous, as a body which can look abroad to similar inquiries which went awry, losing confidence and faith.
Erueti was appointed as a commissioner in November with the backing of the NZ Māori Council. He had earlier been involved in a Waitangi Tribunal claim about state care and disproportionate abuse of Māori, and was a presence in meetings held to lobby for changes to the draft Terms of Reference.
Today, he talks of the importance of the public hearings, but also critically engagement with survivors, whose numbers are growing.
He's meeting survivors, hearing their stories, and they ask: "How did I go?", as if it were an audition.
"And I think the same thing. Did they trust me enough? The trust is the big thing."
It's hard to win from people who have learned not to trust, growing up estranged from family, raised in perverse state-run Lord of the Flies-style homes. People who carried lifelong scars of abuse perpetrated under God's shield. People cut adrift from a childhood and life idealised as every New Zealander's birthright.
"We're just another institution to many of them."
The inquiry will follow routes familiar to Erueti with truths yet to be fully embraced by all our communities. At its roots, it begins with colonisation and leads to the modern day.
For state care, chart a course from the end of World War II, the urbanisation of Māori and destruction of cultural and whanau bonds. There was the willingness of welfare agencies and police to embrace racial stereotyping, how Māori didn't directly fit with the state's perception of what a family should be like, the constant moral panic of juvenile delinquency.
Blend into that the stories of non-Māori, and communities in New Zealand who also lacked a voice.
"From the stories I've heard, it's a class issue. It overlaps and intersects with Māori. [Those who were] disenfranchised and didn't have a voice."
They were sent to boys' homes, girls' homes, children's camps and boarding schools, foster homes and hospitals. It happened everywhere children were vulnerable.
There is no doubt abuse which took place - Victoria University Professor Elizabeth Stanley's book The Road To Hell describes it in gruelling detail. Getting beyond anecdote to the systemic issues, identifying those responsible, making sure it never happens again - this lies before the commission.
"We need to hear the stories of New Zealanders," says Erueti. "It's a New Zealand story that has a strong Treaty component to it but the narrative is one all New Zealanders have experienced."