Professor Taiarahia Black of Ngai Tuhoe wants to create a language retreat near Whakatane.
Professor Black, who holds the chair of te reo at Massey University, says Ohinemataroa, the ancient name for the Whakatane River, is an ideal place to focus on the protection of the language.
The proposed retreat would target both competent speakers and learners.
He told Waatea News it should be popular with city dwellers returning to an area where Maori is still widely spoken.
Professor Black said he got the idea after visiting Gaelic language retreats in Ireland.