A Maori language advocate says past investment in developing proficient Te Reo speakers hasn't necessarily generated more people who can korero Maori.
The most recent census information from Statistics New Zealand reported an almost 5 percent decline in the number of tangata whenua who can hold a conversation in their native tongue since the last count.
Dr Ruakere Hond said there needed to be more focus on encouraging whole communities to learn the language instead of concentrating on making Te Reo an academic subject.
The Taranaki iwi academic said raising proficiency did not necessarily translate into increased patterns of language use.
Dr Hond said the amount of Te Reo being spoken did not always increase simply because people knew a language.
He said unless distinct practices were encouraged and supported within communities, the number of people using the language would not change.