An extensive report tells how whanau are able to be strong and resilient in the face of financial hardship and difficult circumstances.
The Families Commission is publishing Te Pumautanga o Te Whanau on Friday.
Researchers listened to 40 families from south Auckland and Tuhoe - one of the last iwi affected by urban migration.
Tuhoe members acknowledge that, while they're on low incomes, real hardship for them is to be bereft of one's Tuhoetanga: a connection to each other.
All spoke of not having enough money - and needing to borrow.
But in each case, researchers say whanau turn firstly to whanau for help, then to the wider whanau, hapu, marae and iwi organisations for support.
Tuhoe whanau also feel their remote communities haven't had as much support from government departments as other parts of the country.
The report finds more support's required - but it asks who should design, develop and deliver resources to the whanau.
In south Auckland, Maori largely face the same financial pressures - and they also turn to whanau for support.
But because the majority of whanau aren't part of their traditional tribal structures, they're more vulnerable and form strong bonds with friends who gain support from churches and sports clubs.
The Families Commission says the way Government departments deliver to whanau is at fundamental odds with kaupapa whanau, or the Maori family way of life.