The Ministry of Social Development wants iwi to come up with their own list of whanau who can look after Maori children in state care.
Iwi Connect, is part of the Child, Youth & Family strategic plan for working with Maori.
More than half of the 3800 young people in state care are Maori, but only about half are placed with relatives.
But the ministry says iwi have extended family networks and can help identify suitable whanau placements.
It says Ngapuhi is doing whakapapa research to increase the options for those children.