The Ministry of Maori Development, Te Puni Kokiri, not the Ministry of Social Development, will be responsible for the Whanau Ora social services policy, the Herald understands.

And the policy will be piloted in up to half a dozen districts before decisions are taken to extend it throughout the country.

The policy seeks to address families in need in a holistic manner.

That means one agency, a private provider under contract to TPK, will be responsible for working with the family where at present it might be dealing with Child, Youth and Family, Housing New Zealand, and truancy services.

TPK has a regional structure and has experience, although limited, in contracting social services contracts.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, who is Associate Minister of Social Development, is driving the policy and is likely to continue her oversight, possibly as a new Minister of Whanau Ora, under TPK.

The details are to be unveiled in the Budget on May 20.

Labour social development spokeswoman Annette King said last night that making TPK the lead agency "makes a mockery of John Key's claim that Whanau Ora is for all New Zealanders".

TPK was set up to provide services for Maori so for an agency to be running a programme that is for everybody would be problematic, she said.