The New Zealand Defence Force has agreed to help descendants of soldiers in the Māori Battalion's C Company claim the war medals their ancestors never received.
Māori lawyer David Stone and his team have been doing this work alone, for the past year, until now.
This year, Stone published a list of 134 soldiers' names online who never received their war medals in the hope that their descendants would come forward.
There are still more than 60 names remaining.
Stone said the Defence Force's involvement was hugely significant.
"It shows that they see the importance of this kaupapa and that they are taking this kaupapa very seriously. This is the first time they've actually done this," he said.
It had been incredibly moving for Stone to meet descendants for the first time, he said.
"When I was there in Te Tai Rāwhiti for three days it just happened over and over and over. Each person who came through I'd shake their hand, give them a hongi, give them a kiss and sit them down in a chair.
"I'd say, 'ko wai koe? Who are you? Who are we looking at today?' And they'd say, 'that's my dad'. And I'd say to them, 'well your dad is actually entitled to eight medals'. And, without fail, nearly every single one of them just burst out crying, and it didn't matter if they were a tāne or a wahine, same reaction."
Stone is planning a medals-giving ceremony in Te Tairāwhiti in March next year, with the New Zealand Defence Force eager to be involved.
"The Defence Force absolutely want to be there ... I haven't asked if they would fund it but they absolutely want to be involved. My dad and I have set aside the buckets of mutton birds, we've got the steaks in the freezer and we've ordered the pigs so we're ready to go," he said.
"But we certainly can't do that for all of C Company. That's just too massive. I do know that the Army do have the discretion to help out at four national hui a year and I know in the past they've helped out at tangihanga. But I think they'll have to come to the party on this one because it'll just be too big."
The Defence Force Medals Department will be in Gisborne on December 8 to meet with descendants and process the remaining applications.