By all accounts Mike Reilly should be dead.
The pensioner and former country musician was attacked "out of the blue" while visiting a mate in Freemans Bay in July 2018.
Alo Ngata, a complete stranger, bashed Reilly to within an inch of his life, repeatedly kicking and stomping on his head.
The savage beating lasted several minutes and only ended when police tasered the strongly-built 29-year-old factory worker four times, then used force to bring him down.
Ngata died in hospital three days later when life support was switched off.
It's understood he was mentally unwell and had complained of "demons in his head".
A criminal investigation has now been completed, clearing police of blame, but a coroner is yet to rule on the cause of death.
Speaking to the Herald for the first time this week, Reilly - who can no longer walk unaided since the attack - said he'd long since forgiven Ngata.
"I don't hold any resentment against the guy because he ended up getting tasered and dying in hospital.
"It's not really about trying to get back at him, it's basically now between me and ACC."
Though he could walk before the accident, was living independently in his own flat and holding down a part-time job, the 78-year-old said he was now "bedridden" in a Lynfield rest home with little hope of recovery.
And despite being badly injured during the assault, doctors say Reilly's walking problems are due to "degenerative wear and tear" and blame nerve damage from years of heavy alcohol use.
The family have been fighting ACC for support. The organisation refused further treatment last year, saying "this cannot be funded ... as it's not accident/injury related" - before backing down when the family brought in lawyers.
Reilly says the situation is "bloody unfair". He wants medical experts to accept that his condition is related to the attack and ACC to stump up for further assessment and rehabilitation.
He recalls Ngata turning on him without warning in a Beresford St driveway on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
"He came screaming out from one of the flats and just kicked me unconscious. He kept on attacking me. The worst thing he did was kick and jump on my back."
Reilly suffered concussion, a busted knee, contusions and broken clavicle, which swelled so badly doctors feared it would cut off his breathing, his son Tom told the Herald.
He was covered in blood, severely bruised and "purple all over".
"It was touch and go."
Described as a "tough old rooster" by a police officer, Reilly spent a month in Auckland Hospital.
After coming to, he discovered a numbness and lack of feeling in his legs which he says has progressively worsened.
Tom, a 42-year-old film-maker, said an officer who watched a video recording of the beating taken from the police Eagle helicopter, told Reilly's family the attack "should have killed any person of his age".
"It was a terrible thing," Tom said.
"We understood right away that this guy [Ngata] had some really serious problems and we felt for the family.
"But we'd forgiven him really quickly. The real assault came from a letdown in the health system. That's been the real injustice."
After Reilly was discharged from hospital ACC funded about six months of physiotherapy and several months of home care before he moved into a rest home, Tom said.
In January last year a doctor assessed Reilly as suffering from widespread degenerative wear and tear of the spine and found his lower leg stiffness likely reflected "peripheral nerve damage due to a long history of excessive alcohol use".
The doctor recommended osteopathy to treat Reilly's symptoms, but ACC refused to fund it, saying it would not cover "pre-existing conditions".
The family engaged ACC specialist lawyer Ben Hinchcliff to challenge the decision and ACC backed down, making an $800 lump sum payment.
Tom said the osteopath told the family he believed Reilly's inability to walk was due to a spinal injury suffered during the attack, and referred him to a specialist.
The family now want ACC to play ball.
In a statement, ACC said it immediately accepted Reilly's initial claim and had supported him to recover from a head injury and broken bones suffered during the assault.
This included physio, concussion treatment, home care and an independence training programme to restore confidence and strength.
"When Mr Reilly started having difficulty walking his condition was assessed by his GP and an external traumatic brain injury specialist. Their assessment, and an MRI scan, confirmed his mobility issues were caused primarily by long standing medical issues, and degenerative problems with his spine, and were not connected to his assault injuries or another accident."
ACC declined the funding request for osteopathy treatment because it was not related to a covered injury, but later agreed to a lump say payment "rather than go through a lengthy review process".
"Since then, Mr Reilly has not asked for any further treatment funding. We will consider any medical evidence that supports his walking difficulties being the result of an accident."
Hinchcliff said too many ACC claims were wrongly declined, causing unnecessary stress and upheaval for injured patients.
"Every declined decision is very traumatic for those people who are injured and just want treatment without having to engage a lawyer to get their entitlement."
The purpose of the ACC legislation was to restore a claimant's health and independence to the maximum practical extent, he said.
"If the injury only partially contributes to the requirement for treatment, ACC should provide funding."
Older claimants were more vulnerable to injury and also more likely to have claims rejected due to degeneration or underlying health conditions.
"A careful approach to the evidence is required to avoid prejudice, incorrect assumptions and discrimination."
He added that ACC medical advisers were paid employees of ACC, which meant there was a potential conflict when their advice was used to reject claims.
Reilly said he was now confined to his bed watching television and ACC's stance was another kick in the teeth.
"Before the accident there was nothing wrong me."
Tom said the doctors' assessment of his father "doesn't add up".
"He walked into the assault. The next day he couldn't walk and they put it down to alcohol damage ... as though he's slowly lost the power to walk. But it was when he got pummeled around in the street.
"The overall impression I got from the health system is, 'He's over 70, he's a write-off'.
"They just considered him a bit too old and not worth spending money on and they put him out to pasture."
Police have defended their actions on the day of the attack.
In a statement, a spokesman said two separate police investigations had been completed.
"The police critical incident investigation established that Mr Ngata's death was not caused by any police action or non-action."
Ngata's death had been referred to the Coroner and was also under investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Reilly's family have set up a Givealittle page to raise money to support his recovery.