The High Court at Auckland has heard the Crown should treat Maori social service providers differently from other commercial operations.
Te Whanau O Waipareira Trust has brought a case against the Ministry of Social Development.
The ministry has cut its Family Start initiative to at-risk families, saying the scheme wasn't good enough.
But the trust says an agreement with the ministry commits the Crown to act in good faith, and support the urban Maori authority in building its own services for tangata whenua.
The first day in a week-long case was dominated by legal argument.
Trust chief executive John Tamihere is expected to give evidence on Tuesday.