Northland has the highest number of secondary students enrolling in Te Reo Maori of all regions across the North Island.

Figures from the Ministry of Education show the region had an average of 2005 students per year signed up to learn the language over the last three years. The average number of students enrolling in Te Reo each year across the North Island from 2012 to 2014 was less than half that at 999.

Acting principal at Whangarei's Kamo High School Philip Mahoney said students in the region were exposed to Te Reo so often in their daily lives it was natural they decided to learn the language.

"Northland has a high proportion of Maori speakers in our communities so it just makes sense for our students - a lot of them identify with the language and the culture. It's very much a living language here. Many of the kids have maori speakers in their homes, on a parent or grandparent level so they're already familiar with it. It's something they relate to, they can get involved on the language level and on a cultural level, with Kapa Haka and that sort of thing - really immerse themselves in it."


Mr Mahoney said many students went to tangi and marae, and were interested in the language from a young age. Other languages were taught at the school, but they didn't see anywhere near as much interest. Students hoping to learn French or Spanish at a higher level often had to be taught online via video chat as there weren't enough for a full classroom.

According to Ministry of Education data there has been a steady drop in secondary school language enrolments across the country since 2008. There was a 19 per cent drop in students signing up to learn a language other than English between July 2008 and July 2014.

Nationally, at a secondary level Te Reo Maori, French, Japanese and Spanish are the most studied languages, with Te Reo taking out the top spot.