A discussion about the decreasing proficiency levels of one of the official languages in New Zealand, te reo Māori, would not be complete without understanding teacher trainees’ attitudes and motivations towards taking an optional Māori language course. This is because teacher trainees can provide significant opportunities within the classroom to promote learning of te reo and understanding their perspectives on learning the language to inform future revitalisation efforts. Therefore, the aim of the research reported here was to investigate trainees’ attitudes about and motivations for enrolling in an optional Māori language course in order to provide a thematic overview and guide future research on te reo revitalisation efforts. The attitude and motivations of language learners have been shown to be significant determinants in identifying whether a minority language can succeed in a bilingual environment. The data collected from an online survey and a focus group were analysed to identify five distinct but also related themes that were commonly found across participants: (a) importance of engaging in culture alongside the language, (b) consistent learning throughout school and college, (c) motivation can be enhanced through everyday use of the language with friends and whānau, (d) large expenditure of time and effort is required to access Māori speaking communities and (e) mismatch between attitudes towards Māori language and behaviours. The results show how important understanding learners’ attitudes and motivations are when considering the effectiveness of developing revitalisation interventions for te reo.