New social services system will be a Maori model: Key

Families using the new Whanua Ora social services system will have to accept it is based on the Maori way of doing things, Prime Minister John Key says.

Whanau Ora is a Maori Party initiative designed to bring together all the agencies involved in family support and deliver it more effectively.

No details have been announced, but it is likely to involve non-government organisations working on a community basis and using funding from a variety of government sources.

Mr Key said today the policy was based on need, not race, and families would have to opt into it.

"Certainly, part of the ethos of Whanau Ora is an understanding and an acknowledgement of the Maori way of doing things," he said at his post-cabinet press conference.

"Not everyone will want to do that. But in the end, any family that wants access to Whanau Ora...they'll be able to do it."

Mr Key said he expected Pacific, Maori and Pakeha families would become involved in Whanau Ora, which means family wellbeing.

"What we've been currently doing isn't working," he said.

"We have to acknowledge that.

"I think if the policy is as effective as we hope it will be, a lot of Pakeha families will want to use it."

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is leading the development of Whanau Ora, and Mr Key said she hadn't indicated she wasn't happy about it being open to all families.

Because so little is know about the development work there has been confusion about which families will be able to use it, and how.

Mr Key said that at present, social services were delivered through various contracts funded by health, housing and other ministries.

The idea was to "collapse" those contracts into one which would give more flexibility in the way social services were delivered.

The system will be explained in the May 20 budget and Mr Key said there would be "some new money" for it.

He said reports of $1 billion being siphoned off into Whanau Ora weren't correct and the system would have to be phased in.


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