This article explores some of the infl uences shaping early childhood Māori language education in Aotearoa New Zealand. By drawing on Garcia’s socio- historical stages of language orientation it parallels Māori language socio- historical developments and the linguistic conditions within which Māori language regeneration efforts reside. Also drawing on Waitangi Tribunal fi ndings these are juxtaposed as developments in Māori language education. In the New Zealand context, public policy has been slow to keep up with the pace of change, much less support or work with these fl ax- roots movements. Referred to as “leaden- footed”, the slow pace of Crown response and responsibility has stymied advancements. The diffi culties associated with these movements are typically politically constructed problems, not linguistic. Controversy exists where there is misinformation about the nature of languages and what constitutes bilingual education. In the New Zealand context, education (spanning both the non- compulsory and compulsory sectors) has been dominated by monolingual English policies and practices. Debate still rages about whether Māori, one of the two offi cial written and spoken languages, should be compulsory in schools. It is argued here that it should.