James Shaw says he wanted to learn Te Reo Maori when he was a kid but was scoffed at by his teacher.
The Green Party leader has unveiled a $165 million plan to make New Zealand's native language compulsory for year 1 to 10 students by 2030.
A taskforce would be established to implement te reo as a core curriculum subject in all public primary and secondary schools, requiring an additional 2500 teachers.
Mr Shaw says he would have loved to learn te reo growing up but it was never considered a priority for his generation.
"I actually remember when I was about nine I asked my teacher if we could learn Te Reo Maori and I was scoffed at."
"That was pretty much the end of my ambitions at that stage," Mr Shaw says.
While he has "no hard plans" to learn the language now, Mr Shaw says he would like to get to "a basic level of proficiency over the coming years" with the help of Green Party candidate Jack McDonald.
"My message to parents is this is going to be great for your child's education, learning your third and forth languages will become a whole lot easier having learned a second language."
"It's really important for the future of our country, it's really important for our cultural understanding of each other," James Shaw says.