Oranga Tamaraki is refuting claims made by Ngāti Kahungunu iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana that 22 children were taken from their whanau in the last school term in Camberley.
The ministry says a total of four children were uplifted from the Hastings suburb over that period. Two of those were taken by police and two were taken by Oranga Tamariki, it said.
But Tomoana is standing by his numbers, saying it is a "crisis" that the iwi is "just coming to grips with it".
Tomoana says his numbers came from talks with the Camberely Community Centre, Hastings' mayor, Hastings District Council's chief executive and Camberley School.
"We weren't really aware until families started coming to us, bypassing government agencies because they were not being heard," he said on Wednesday.
"It is a crisis. You don't think 22 kids being taken from the homes is a crisis?"
Tomoana said he wanted to draw awareness to the numbers on the back of a standoff at Hawke's Bay Hospital between a mother and her baby, supported by her midwives, while Oranga Tamariki tried to uplift yet a new born from her mother.
Following negotiations with family, Oranga Tamariki and police it was finally decided the baby would not be uplifted.
Tomoana said his iwi was now working with Oranga Tamariki and other organisations to prevent anything similar happening in future.
"We have to create a better understanding, a better response. At this moment we have agreed to work together to prevent that."
Hastings District Councillor Jacoby Poulain said the council was also working alongside Camberley school to see what help could be provided to the Camberley community.
"I understand many meetings have been held between the Hastings District Council and police and other agencies to see what we as a community can do to support the community of Camberley, and I understand there's been advocacy for that support to be rolled out around our vulnerable communities when necessary."
Poulain said she praised local iwi for their involvement in keeping vulnerable communities safer and said things were "on the right track".
"Different people and agencies can play a different role in this support space.
"Ideally all the different agencies could contribute to provide support services for these families so we strengthen and empower them well before it gets to crisis mode."
Oranga Tamariki were unable to respond to a request for further comment before deadline.