A man who was sexually abused while in state care has called the process of seeking redress "disgusting", saying the Crown spent close to $2 million fighting his claim, worth $35,000.
"People are making money off our misery, and when we prove our misery, we receive a payment that is a joke," said Earl White - not his real name - who recounted his violent and abusive childhood as part of the ongoing Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry, investigating abuse in state and faith-based care between 1950 and 1999.
Born in 1961, White's earliest memory was of his father chasing his sister down the hallway with a knife.
In early 1965, their mother left, and they came to attention of Child Welfare.
He and his brother Paul - not his real name - were put into the Presbyterian Boys' Home.
There they were also abused, and had soap shoved in their mouths if they swore.
His voice choked up as he recalled his earliest memory of his mother coming to visit them, in a blue and white car.
"They never got out of the car and didn't stay for long.
"My mother said she would come back and get us and take us to live with her, but she never came back."
He and Paul were back and forth between the boys' home and living with their father over the next few years.
It was a violent time, during which he recalled being beaten often by his father with a strap and jug cord, and once a block of four-by-two timber after dropping some eggs.
They were also taught by him to steal, and were pulled out of school for the purpose.
Around this time, when he was 5 or 6, he started smoking, and became heavily addicted for the rest of his life.
He blamed his mother for many years for leaving them with their father, but later he found out she'd written many times to Child Welfare saying they were not safe with him.
Many of the letters were never opened.
Some of the abuse was even witnessed by Child Welfare officers, but they did nothing.
Around 1967 or 1968, White recalled an interview with an officer, who asked if he wanted to remain with his father.
"I remember sitting on the bed crying and saying 'no'. It was because he was hitting us all of the time and they knew he was hitting us, but they didn't do anything about it and things were always the same."
He spent some time at his mother's, where there was also violence. He continued stealing things, and was referred to Youth Aid after being caught stealing bikes.
In 1974 he was picked up one day after school, committed to the care of the director general of Child Welfare and taken to Epuni Boys Home.
Right away he was put in "secure", which was a cell-like room for 23 hours a day his first few days. Once he was out, the violence began.
"It was very violent at Epuni. You would be bullied by the king pins, who were the older boys favoured by the staff to control the younger ones. Other boys would bully you, too. And the staff would regularly assault us."
One particularly violent day he was beaten by a group of boys, held down and had a medicine ball dropped on his face, all under the watch of a staff member.
There was also physical, verbal and psychological abuse from staff.
"The housemaster always called me 'sad sack', as I was always sad. I was actually terrified the entire time I was there."
In 1974 he had a psychological report done, which recommended he be put into a family home. But instead he was sent to Hokio Beach School, a similar facility.
There the same violent culture and king pin system were entrenched.
As one of the only Pākehā, he received a lot of bullying, including lots of fights over cigarettes.
There was physical abuse from staff also, and he was called a "loser" often.
At Hokio, like Epuni, there was little education.
"The only things we learned were hot-wiring and breaking into people's houses."
He was sexually abused by a staff member.
The man, a cook, offered White a cigarette. He was very addicted by then, so jumped at the chance. Cigarettes were used as a form of payment.
The abuse continued. Ansell would even take groups of boys out of the home on trips, taking boys into his room at his home.
"I would always get cigarettes as a reward," White said.
The whole time, there was nobody White or the other boys could talk or complain to.
"When I first got there they told us not to inform, not lay complaints against staff members as we would only get in trouble, get beaten up."
He was discharged in 1977, aged 15, but struggled to find employment.
He turned to crime, and became addicted to drugs and alcohol - a cycle that would continue over many years and include many stints in jail.
In 1987, at this lowest point, he set himself on fire.
"I felt so guilty that I wasn't there for my family and I just wanted to hurt myself."
In 1999 he made contact with Sonja Cooper, of Cooper Legal, about making a claim on behalf of him and his brother.
It was to be eight years before their case was heard in court, and four years more before he received an ex-gratia payment from the Ministry of Social Development.
Through Cooper, he had tried vehemently to settle outside court, for fear of retraumatising himself, but the Crown fought his case "aggressively".
As he was one of the first welfare claims, White believed he was caught up in "legal crossfire" as the Crown did not want to set a precedent.
The Crown refused his early settlement offers, and even denied his claims of sexual abuse - despite knowing Ansell had been convicted in 1976 of similar offences at Hokio.
A judge eventually accepted the abuse occurred, but said he could not seek damages because of the statute of limitations.
In 2011 he accepted an ex-gratia payment of $35,000 from MSD, but it did not accept responsibility.
He said the Crown would have spent close to $2 million fighting his case.
White said the whole process was a "nightmare" and had retraumatised him, and he didn't feel justice had been done.
"I don't call myself a survivor because I am still waiting to be rescued. That can't happen until I receive justice, that would be a proper apology from the Prime Minister or Governor General on behalf of the Queen to all of the thousands of children who have been harmed - including me and my brother."
He said there should be an independent process, not controlled by state departments, and once abuse had been fact checked, a genuine apology and fair compensation offered.
One thing that brought him peace was making sure kids and grandkids did not go through what he did.
"I am involved in the lives of my grandchildren and they are my reason for living."
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