The Families' Commission says the best way to help vulnerable Maori families is to work with them.
A series of wananga on He Ara Whakamua (Building Pathways to the Future Together) will be held throughout the country for the next 12 months.
The first forum was held in Wellington on Friday. They are open to everyone interested and include input from iwi, hapu and government agencies on how to build positive pathways for Maori.
The chief Maori adviser at the Families' Commission, Kathie Irwin, says surveys have found that tangata whenua hold the answer.
"The theme of building pathways together is about listening to the voices of whanau and speaking out for the vulnerable in ways that enable us to help people find best practice models.
"We're trying to make sure that we listen to the things that we've been given advice about and to plan our work programmes accordingly."
Ms Irwin says information gathered from the wananga will be included in a report which will be drafted from June next year.