The director of Samoan studies at Victoria University says only 44 percent of Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand speak their native language.
Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin made the comment during a symposium this week aimed at ensuring the Pacific languages survive.
He says programmes need to be put in place at schools.
"Pacific languages could be part of our diet. I think if you develop a bilingual programme that goes a long well you won't lose out on English, and you won't lose out on the language."
Galumalemana Alfed hunkin.
The symposium comes after unsuccessful efforts to have a number of Pacific languages declared official languages of New Zealand.