Former state wards who were victims of abuse will deliver a petition and an open letter to Parliament today, calling for a public apology and a full inquiry.
Between 1950 and 1990, more than 100,000 children were taken into state care, most of them Māori.
More than 1000 have told a special panel they were physically and sexually abused, and the government has paid out $17 million and apologised to 900 people.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has ruled out a universal apology, saying there is no evidence of a systemic problem, and won't agree to an independent inquiry.
The open letter has been signed by more than 10,000 people and will be presented to Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox and the petition, signed by about 5000, will be presented to Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei.
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan told Morning Report many people had their childhood taken away from them, and it was time for the government to do the right thing.
She had spoken to someone who had called the Ministry of Social Development and was told to file a complaint, but had heard nothing about it for two years, she said.
The survivors wanted justice, and although that might look different for each one, an apology and inquiry were important, she said.
"An apology, you know an apology for something that happened to them. We can't change what happened to them, we can't make it better.
"Not only an apology but an inquiry to understand the extent of what went on and certainly to ensure that it never happens again ... that's what's really important.
"It's very obvious that the majority of the children that were taken were Māori, and look at the impact it's had on their lives."