Lawyers who have represented thousands of state care abuse survivors are calling for abolition of the limitations defence in cases of child abuse which they say has been used as a "powerful tool" to deny victims redress.
Sonja Cooper and Amanda Hill of Cooper Legal revealed to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry the difficulties of battling with the Crown, which also included Government agencies arguing their actions were "acceptable" at the time.
One of those actions involved the "horrific example" of internal virginal examinations for venereal disease on girls, some as young as 8, who were placed in girls homes in the 1970s.
"The Ministry of Social Development said that was in 'policy of the standards of the time'," Hill said.
"There were complaints being made about it back then, so how can they say that's within the standards of the day?"
The commission is investigating abuse in state and faith-based care between 1950 and 1999 and is currently hearing the experiences of survivors in seeking redress, such as compensation, counselling or an apology.
Over the past week and a half it has heard from about a dozen survivors sharing their stories of the sexual, physical, emotional and psychological abuse they experienced in state and faith-based care - institutions that were supposed to look after them - and the trauma and lifelong impacts that followed.
But for many, the process to seek recognition from the Crown, an apology and compensation, has been described as just as bad - if not worse - than the abuse itself.
On Thursday Earl White - not his real name - spoke of how he'd been sexually abused in state care, which a judge accepted, but he couldn't seek reparations due to the statute of limitations as the abuse had happened so long ago.
White, who struggles with reading and writing, questioned how he was to know about the specific legislation.
In her evidence, Cooper said during the Australian Royal Commission into Abuse in Care they discovered the average time for victims to disclose their abuse was 22 years.
"Over the last few weeks we have been hearing just how difficult it is to tell their story. To understand what happened, to feel able to tell someone, and to tell a lawyer."
Many of their clients had been abused much of their young lives, and so it took a while to understand it was not normal.
Another of their clients Kerry Johnson, aged 48 - also not his real name - on Monday only just disclosed he had also been abused when he was about 5 at school.
"Kerry has been a client of ours for 16 years, and he is still telling us new things."
In their evidence, Cooper Legal called for New Zealand to abolish limitation provisions in child abuse cases - covering physical, sexual and psychological - and apply to all historic cases. This had been done in Scotland and some Australian states.
Cooper said her firm had settled 1100 claims, and had 1250 further clients with 1400 open files, which is growing.
These claimants ranged in age from 18 to 80.
The lawyers told the Royal Commission there were very few outside their firm doing this work.
A major factor was around legal aid, which paid "really poor", but which they believed was the "proper thing to do".
The lawyers canvassed a range of further issues in the opening of their evidence being presented over the next three days, including the "contracting out" to third party care providers.
Hill said another major issue was how despite a hugely disproportionate amount of survivors being Māori, there was no meaningful engagement with enacting the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
"There is nothing in the process that acknowledges a loss of culture, language, the inability of the child to go to kohanga reo, the separation from iwi and hapu.
"So not only is the process lacking, but the response to harm is lacking."
The lawyers also addressed a letter they'd received from the Crown alleging their clients were peddling untruths.
"I was really horrified and actually deeply offended," Cooper said.
We take very, very careful steps with our clients to make sure that their evidence is not contaminated. We certainly don't feed their memories, we take their accounts to the various Ministries."
Hill also pointed out many of their clients experienced drug and alcohol addiction, and mental health issues, making maintaining a fabrication for 10 years quite a challenge.
"It imputes a level of foresight and planning to maintain for a decade."
The Crown is expected to respond to witness statements in hearings next month.
Where to get help:
• 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202
• NATIONAL ANXIETY 24 HR HELPLINE: 0800 269 4389
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.