Ministry of Education plans to stop providing a series of books for students learning Pasifika languages have caused complaints to the Human Rights Commission.

The ministry has decided to halt production of the popular Tupu and Folauga series of reading books and journals while it reviews the best way to accelerate the achievement of Pasifika students.

The books used in 33 Pasifika bilingual units around the country.

In a letter to one concerned parent, Education Minister Anne Tolley said supporting Pasifika achievement was a priority for the Government.

Bu the ministry's top priority for curriculum support materials was to support foundation learning in English.

As a result, it had been decided to "pause" the production of the books at the end of the year because they did not "align" with the ministry goal of every child achieving literacy and numeracy levels "that enable their success".

The decision - which will affect more than 1300 students - has upset parents, teachers and members of the Pacific Island communities, several of whom have complained to the Human Rights Commission, saying it breaches their children's rights to learn in their own language.

The Tupu series is published once a year in five Pasifika languages and Tolauga is published once a year in Samoan.

A spokesman for the commission said it had received five complaints.

But the ministry has defended its move, saying that while there had been improvements in Pasifika students' English literacy levels, they still needed to be better.

The ministry's acting group manager for curriculum teaching and learning, Howard Baldwin, said it would carry out a review to find out how curriculum support materials could best raise the achievement of Pasifika students in English literacy.

The review would also focus on ways to better help teachers make explicit connections between a student's first language and English.

Mr Baldwin said the ministry would continue to provide language guidelines, resources - including some new storybooks - and professional development for teachers to support the teaching of five Pasifika languages, as part of the action from The Pasifika Education Plan.

But the education union the NZEI said halting the production of the two popular reading materials penalised Pasifika students and undermined the value of bilingual education.

President Frances Nelson said research showed that students who had strong literacy in their own language had greater success in literacy in English.

Bilingualism has also been identified as a major contributor to the overall academic success of Pasifika students in New Zealand schools.

"These readers are an effective learning resource which not only promote bilingual literacy but also respect the value of Pacific languages and cultures," she said.

The FAGASA organisation, an association of teachers and parents supporting the teaching of Samoan in New Zealand, said English literacy was being used as an excuse for cutting funding for Pacific languages and the move was "shortsighted and linguistically dangerous".