The government has announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the abuse of children in state care.

A Royal Commission is the highest level of inquiry the government can use. The announcement marks the final commitment to its 100-day plan.

At the announcement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it’s an inquiry reserved for the most serious issues of public importance.

“We are announcing that the inquiry into historic abuse in state care will be a Royal Commission. We hope that this Inquiry Royal Commission will confront New Zealand's history in this area and the impact that it had.”

Children’s Minister, Tracey Martin, was also at the announcement.

“This inquiry is about people, not institutions, however, we have also been very clear that if these people whether they be children, young people or vulnerable people were in our care and regardless of where they were placed, they were harmed when they are in scope.”

That scope is 50 years from 1950 to the end of 1999, the time period of when more than 100,000 children were forcefully removed from their families and placed in state care.

More than half of them were Māori and some were subject to all types of abuse. Survivor Eugene Ryder says the inquiry is only a small win.

“In terms of a win, I think we are just starting the race, so we have to determine what a win looks like but it is definitely a start to a journey that this country needs to take.”

In its first year, the inquiry will cost the government $12 million and will be headed by former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand.

However, former ward of state and social worker Paora Joss Moyle is upset with the result.

“The amount of uplift of Māori is increasing and we not hearing that that's not on the table. There are the issues in Family Court where vulnerable mothers are having their children taken from them.  And I personally believe that this inquiry should have been headed by a Māori leader, given that it's mostly Māori children that have been traumatised and taken from them (the government).”

Black Power member Albie Epere in 2011 was given compensation money by the previous government but hopes his voice will still be heard.

“For the amount of abuse that we went through when we were younger and the effects that it has held on us on all our lives. I think it should be a lot more than what they have given.”

The consultation on the draft terms of reference for the Royal Commission will aim to be out in April.