Justice Minister Andrew Little says he decided to offer a personal apology to a wrongfully convicted man after he read about his traumatic experience of prison.
The Government announced last night that it would pay Tyson Redman $551,000 in compensation for his assault conviction and imprisonment for two and a half years.
The compensation included a written apology. But Little said he decided to take the unusual step of ringing Redman himself to apologise.
"I was aware from [QC] Donald Stevens' report that Tyson's time in prison for something he clearly didn't do was traumatic and I was pleased to be able to say I hope he could put these events behind him and build a good life for himself."
Little also said that he felt his response to a previous wrongful conviction case, that of Teina Pora, had been too impersonal. Pora received $3.5m in November for his 20 years in jail on wrongful rape and murder charges.
Redman was convicted in 2007, aged 17, in relation to a group assault at a 21st birthday party in Mt Roskill. His conviction was not quashed until 2013 - long after he had served a full prison sentence – when it was proven that he was not at the party at the time.
Redman's sister Rachael told the Herald her brother had always maintained his innocence.
"For 12.5 years he has had to endure scrutiny and no amount of compensation will make up for almost half of his life waiting to be cleared. However, we feel relieved a conclusion has been reached and Tyson can now hopefully move on with his life."
She said the fight to clear her brother's name had taken far too long and they hoped for an overhaul of the system so other innocent people could access justice.
Seeing her brother dragged off to prison was "awful", she said.
"We feel there was a stigma attached to the family from that point which has been very hard to deal with.
"Going into prison Tyson had no convictions. He will have to work hard to put this behind him and I'm not sure he will ever be free from this experience."
Lawyer Jeremy Sutton, who worked on Redman's compensation case, the ordeal had had a profound effect on his client, who still had a deep mistrust of authority.
" It's a very long process. He was 17 at the time, he's 30 now. He's almost spent half his life either being on bail, being in prison or fighting this."
"He served a full term of two and a half years. He was with much older inmates, he was vulnerable and like any person in that situation it would have affected him deeply."
Long road to justice
Redman was convicted in 2007 because he was thought to have been part of a group assault at a 21st birthday party in Mt Roskill which involved people wielding wooden blocks and baseball bats.
It was not until 2013 – after he had served a full sentence and been released – that his conviction was wiped when it emerged he was not present when the assault took place.
He appealed, but an attempt by his former lawyer Barry Hart to challenge the Crown witnesses as unreliable failed.
It was followed in 2009 by an application to the Governor-General for the rare use of the "royal prerogative of mercy".
That eventually saw the Ministry of Justice review his file, then recommend that the new evidence should be heard in a fresh 2013 Court of Appeal decision.
The Court of Appeal overturned Redman's convictions, saying the Crown case was not strong and the witnesses could lead a jury to find "reasonable doubt".
While a new trial would normally take place, the court stated there was no point as Redman had served his sentence.
In July 2015 the then Justice Minister, Amy Adams, asked Donald Stevens QC to provide independent advice on the application.
His first report in early 2017 concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, Redman was innocent of the wounding and injuring charges.
Stevens' second report recommended that the Government pay compensation to Redman.