Te Runanga A Iwi O Ngapuhi and Child, Youth and Family have formally agreed to work together to protect and nurture children in Northland.
A Memorandum of Understanding commits both to open discussion, joint decision making and the sharing of information.
Ngapuhi is the first iwi to sign a memorandum with the department.
Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett says it will mean early intervention with vulnerable Ngapuhi whanau and help address the root causes of child abuse and neglect.
She says her hope is that other iwi will follow suit and build a closer relationship with Child, Youth and Family.
Of the nearly 5000 children in Child Youth and Family, about half are Maori and just over 400 affiliate to the Northland tribe.
Child Youth and Family general manager of operations Marama Edwards says working with Ngapuhi will help to provide better lives for their tamariki.
She says the agreement will help to reconnect tamariki to the Northland tribe and give them a sense of belonging.