The Kohanga Reo National Trust has told a parliamentary committee that the wider whanau, not just parents, are vital in the development of Maori children.
The education and science select committee is hearing submissions on its inquiry into engaging parents in the education of their children.
Kohanga Reo trustee Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi told the committee that dealing with vulnerable children in isolation from their whanau has been the practice of many services for too long.
She says when dealing with vulnerable children, one needs to take into account the vulnerable situation of the whanau, which includes extended family members.
Dame Iritana says putting all of the resources into the face of the problem means there are thousands of whanau that no one is getting to.