The Cook Islands government says to be eligible for permanent residency, applicants must be able to speak conversational Maori.
The Immigration Minister, Sir Terepai Maoate, says the policy, which has been approved by cabinet, has been long overdue and is in line with the recommendations of the 2003 Immigration Advisory Committee.
Sir Terepai says this move also supports the aspiration as a nation to preserve Te Reo Kuki Airani.
He says he is sure the people of the Cook Islands will support the initiative.
The Committee said the requirement is consistent with policies in New Zealand and Australia where applicants need to meet a standard of English language before they can acquire permanent residency or citizenship.