Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has bowed to Prime Minister John Key's edict that her whanau ora policy must be available to everyone in need, rather than only to Maori.

Mrs Turia yesterday said there was no reason the plan she developed could not be used for non-Maori. Earlier, she had insisted it was designed for Maori.

Mrs Turia said she was not disappointed by the Prime Minister's decision to widen its reach to others, but said if the network was to be widened it would need more money.

The apparent standoff between Mrs Turia and Mr Key brought an attack from Labour MPs, who said it was clear the policy was a shambles.

Mrs Turia was grilled on it in Parliament yesterday by Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta, who asked if its integrity would be compromised by the Government's insistence it be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Mrs Turia said she has always believed it could be translated into any community. She later said it was understandable the Government was nervous about providing the service only for Maori.

"It's very normal when you're promising something to a particular sector of society for people to get a bit nervous if they think others are not going to have the same opportunities."

"What I said which may have upset some people is that it's not for Maori to determine how other people should function or how services should be delivered to their people.

"I stand by that comment because for so long we've always had other people telling us what we should or should not be doing."

But she believed that although the the plan had been designed with Maori whanau in mind, there was no reason it could not also be used for others.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday denied the Government and Mrs Turia were ever at odds over the reach of the programme, claiming any confusion was caused only by the media.

The Maori Party and the Government are yet to hammer out the details of the policy, which is expected to be included in this year's Budget and could start as early as July.

A taskforce report on it has been completed but has yet to be published.

Mrs Turia said she expected results to be clear quickly - the taskforce had proposed active research to run alongside it, so that researchers worked with providers and whanau to collect the information to measure improvements in that whanau's well-being.

"We can tell, even after a year, whether we've done well with some of those families or not. Right now you couldn't do that."

Providers were likely to be selected. She believed there were already numerous well-established groups which would be qualified to offer it.

The first year could be used for "bedding in" and integrating the various contracts those providers already had with a range of different agencies.


Maori Party initiative that sees millions of dollars from private providers go to the health and welfare needs of struggling families.

Initially devised for Maori families only, Prime Minister John Key says it should be available to everybody and should be based not on race, but on need.