A new fund is being set up for schools wanting to start or extend teaching of Asian languages.
Education Minister Hekia Parata said the Government would spend $10 million over the next five years on the fund.
Schools could apply for money to set up new Mandarin, Japanese or Korean language programmes, or to expand or enhance existing Asian language programmes.
Ms Parata said Japanese was taught at about 160 secondary schools, Mandarin at fewer than 40 and Korean at two.
Children needed the opportunity to learn the languages of New Zealand's main trading partners, she said.