Bilingual education in the context of New Zealand is now over 30 years old. The two largest linguistic minority groups involved in this type of education – the Indigenous Māori and Pasifika peoples of Samoan, Tongan, Cook Islands and Niuean and Tokelauan backgrounds – have made many gains but have struggled in a national context where minority languages have low status. Māori bilingual programs are well established and have made a significant contribution towards reducing Māori language shift that in the 1970s looked to be beyond regeneration. Pasifika bilingual education by contrast is not widely available and not well resourced by the New Zealand government. Both forms continue to need support and a renewed focus at local and national levels.
This chapter provides an overview of past development of Māori and Pasifika bilingual education and present progress. For Māori, the issues relate primarily to how to boost language regeneration, particularly between the generations. Gaining greater support for immersion programs and further strengthening bilingual education pedagogies, particularly relating to achieving biliteracy objectives, are key. In the context of Pasifika, extending government and local support would not only safeguard the languages but has the potential to counteract long-established patterns of low Pasifika student achievement in mainstream/English-medium schooling contexts. Finally, the future of both forms of bilingual education can be safeguarded if they are encompassed within a national languages policy that ensures minority language development in the predominantly English monolingual national context of New Zealand.