"You get a group of older Māori, and start talking about their memories of te reo, and soon there won't be a set of dry eyes in the room."
University of Waikato te reo Māori lecturer Dr Ēnoka Murphy is reflecting on the experiences of some of his older tauira, students - the "courageous" ones, he calls them.
For many, they are dealing with intergenerational "reo trauma" - their parents of the generation of Māori children beaten in schools by their teachers for speaking their native tongue.
Consequently, they were made to feel shame about their reo, their tikanga, their Māori identity, and didn't want their children to experience the same feeling.
"They were protecting them from the racism they experienced," Murphy, of Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Ruapani me Ngāti Kahungunu, said.
"What parent wants their child to go to school and be shamed? To be beaten?"
But it instilled in that next generation a sense of "whakamā", a shame or apprehensiveness at not being able to fulfill tikanga roles, strongly linked to identity, and fuelled by colonisation.
"It is extraordinarily common, almost universal in my classes among older Māori," Murphy said.
Dover Samuels was part of that generation. He can still remember the pain of the cane as it came crashing down on him, in the hands of his Pākehā teacher.
When Samuels, a former MP and Māori Affairs Minister, started school in the late 1940s in Matauri Bay in the Far North, the only language he and other Ngāpuhi children knew was te reo Māori.
But if they were heard speaking it, they were sent out to cut lengths of supplejack and whipped with it - at times until they bled.
"We'd be lined up in front of the class, asked to bend over, and caned," Samuels said.
"All solely for speaking te reo."
The Native Schools Act 1867 required instruction in English where practicable, and while there was no official policy banning children from speaking Māori, many, were physically punished.
It was a policy of assimilation, and while phased out in the 20th century, the ramifications have been felt for generations.
"We had to leave our reo, our tikanga, at the door with our horses," Samuels said.
"The impact of that was everlasting, this agenda of disempowerment."
In 2015, Samuels called for a formal Crown apology, to all those beaten by the state for speaking their reo, and to the generations after also impacted.
He'd been told any apology would eventually be considered as part of the overall Ngāpuhi claim.
But Samuels, now 80, worries that as he and the other children abused were would be dead before the tribunal came back with its findings.
"I think it is important to recognise. Our mokopuna today cannot believe this happened, that the Crown, that was meant to protect us as citizens, as Māori, brutalised us."
He also wanted a fund established to support those feeling the ramifications reconnect with their reo and their tikanga.
While those incidents were historic, the trauma has been passed down through generations that followed.
Intergenerational "reo trauma"
For the first seven years of her life, Lois Turei was Tūmanako.
It was her name. It translates to hope, a name she was given after being born with a cleft palate.
But after her surgery and she formally entered the school system, she became Lois.
"All of my whānau knew me as Tūmanako, but when I went into the Pākehā system, our parents didn't want us to stand out, to experience what they had growing up.
"So I was Lois."
Both her parents - of Tūhoe, Whakatōhea, Tūwharetoa and Te Whānau-a-Āpanui - grew up in and around Opotiki and Te Urewera fluent in their reo, and immersed in their culture.
But during their days at school they, like Samuels, were told to leave their tikanga and their reo at the door, and punished if they disobeyed.
Despite growing up immersed in reo Māori and tikanga, when Turei started school it began to drop away and be replaced by English, which was encouraged by her parents.
"They just wanted the best for us, and really believed that meant focusing on English," said Turei, who is head of production at NZME.
Today, while she still understands te reo, when it comes to speaking, she experiences a great sense of whakamā.
"It's all there, I know, but when I open my mouth, I just really struggle."
Whakamā, and the "power of colonisation"
Murphy, who has taught te reo for over 30 years, said such experiences were "near universal" for Māori of Turei's generation, and those before her.
"It is often felt among Māori who feel they should be able to do things, things their tūpuna did, but they can't.
"There are quite a few reasons why parents ceased to kōrero Māori or teach their children reo, and one is they were convinced it had no place in the future of society, not only by schools but their own parents."
It was a protection technique, Murphy said, with parents wanting to shelter their children from the racism they'd experienced.
"For many of our kaumatua it was their parents who first suffered trauma, so they didn't have te reo passed on to them, and then they didn't pass it on to my generation."
It was not everywhere, though, with some remote areas in the Far North, and in the rohe of Tūhoe and Ngāti Porou, able to retain their reo.
But Murphy said overall the school system had a huge impact on the state of te reo Māori, which despite a boom in basic speakers continues to decline at higher levels.
The percentage of Māori being able to speak te reo has dropped from over 25 per cent in 2001 to under 19 per cent in 2018.
"We're talking about generations who were made to feel ashamed about speaking their reo, about being Māori," Murphy said.
The te reo revitalisation movement, which arguably began in 1972 with the petition that led to Māori Language Week, and included the Kohanga Reo movement and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori, and overall mainstream promotion of te reo, gave Murphy hope, but he believed the language was still under threat.
"We are still sitting at just under 20 per cent of Māori being able to speak te reo, and that is with everything that has happened over the past few decades."
Murphy agreed with Samuels' call for a formal Crown apology, to address the hurt its policies did to generations of Māori.
"There absolutely needs to be an apology – the state of te reo today and the pain Māori still feel is the direct result of the Crown's education policy."
It was a "terrifying and incredibly emotional" experience for kaumatua having to address it, he said.
"This is the power of assimilation, of colonisation."
But the revitalisation movement and longing for whakapapa connection had seen a surge in older Māori looking to restore their reo and tikanga, with people even moving home from Australia to join courses, Murphy said.
He wanted to see the Crown fund kaumatua-specific reo Māori programmes, as part of its apology.
One of Murphy's students, Wynell Harris, of Ngāti Wairere and Waikato-Tainui, started learning te reo this year, age 64.
"This is the first time I've learned, even though I'm Māori."
Like Turei, she grew up learning tikanga, whakapapa, regularly going to marae, all from her parents and grandparents who spoke te reo, but never around the children.
They'd been punished at school for speaking their reo, and passed that trauma on to the next generation.
"They encouraged us to go to Pākehā schools, do as Pākehā do, because that is how you get jobs.
"So let's just say, us children, didn't realise we were Māori."
But when she had children of her own, Harris wanted to ensure they had a different experience, and enrolled them in kohanga reo.
Now Harris has stopped working, and decided now was the time to start her own journey.
It had been "incredibly emotional", with a lot of tears, and while she felt a little whakamā in the beginning, she'd been able to push through.
"It is such a joy to learn, and pulls together my tikanga, whakapapa, work around the marae - there is so much to learn."
Minister for Māori Crown Relations Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis, of Ngāti Manu, told the Herald such stories, like that of Samuels and the intergenerational trauma, were "deeply upsetting to think about".
"But I agree with Dover, it is something from our past we should deal with.
"I think everyone of my generation has heard the stories about how our parents and grandparents were punished for speaking te reo at school.
"There is no denying that shaming Māori for speaking Māori has had an effect on many many whānau - generation after generation."
Davis said he'd asked officials to discuss this issue further with Samuels, and others who experienced similar treatment, and would follow it up this week.
Turei also would like an apology from the Crown.
"It happened a long time ago, but the impacts are still being felt today."
What gave Turei hope, like her name Tūmanako, was the pride today in everything Māori, and even in little things like hearing "kia ora" in the workplace.
In contrast to her "strange, English name", she and her Pākehā husband had given their daughters all Māori names.
Still though, because of her childhood experiences, she'd chosen "easy Māori names", for fear of them being mispronounced in school, being teased.
But now her grandchildren were growing up with "true tūpuna names", like Tāwhirimatea, the god of storms; and Hine-pūkohu-rangi, the "mist-maiden" of Tūhoe.
"They are beautiful names, because they mean something. And it has taken three generations.
"It makes my heart burst."
Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori
On September 14, 1972, Ngā Tamatoa's Hana Jackson - with support of several other Māori organisations - delivered a petition with over 30,000 signatures to the government calling for te reo classes in schools.
Their work was the catalyst for that date becoming Māori Language Day – extended to Māori Language Week in 1975, an increase in Māori tuition across the country, and Māori becoming an official language in 1987, among other developments.
Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2020 runs from Monday, September 14, to Sunday, September 20.
The week is a celebration of the country's indigenous language, and a recognition of the mahi, work, done by generations to revive it.
This year, due to Covid-19, instead of the usual parades Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori/Māori Language Commission is aiming to have 1 million people join the virtual Māori Language Moment at midday, September 14.
So far over 500,000 people have registered their intention to take part.