Chair of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa in Northland, Haami Piripi, says taking over care of mokopuna in state custody is a long-term goal for many tribes.
There are 2100 Maori children or young people in the custody of Child, Youth and Family, and only 22 of them are being cared for by iwi service providers.
Fifteen iwi providers have approval to take over care, but only five are doing so.
Haami Piripi says many iwi are not geared up and ready to deliver that service yet, and believes Maori would be better off working with other providers so they deliver a more appropriate service.
He says taking full care of children or custody is a medium to long-term goal for iwi.