Allegations of zone fixing in Wellington schools

Wellington principals are concerned about schools in their region skewing enrolment zones to capture wealthy suburbs and exclude poor areas.

Secondary Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh said principals in the Wellington region have raised concerns with him about zone fixing.

Mr Walsh is calling for school to put their evidence on the table.

"I have received calls from a number of principals concerned about this. People making these confidential allegations need to come clean because it is casting aspersions across the whole secondary school sector.

"If they really believe it is happening, then they need to put those complaints in formally to the Ministry of Education."

The "gerrymandering" of school zones and cherrypicking out-of-zone students from school ballots was not an honest practice, and allegations of it were damaging for schools, Mr Walsh said.

The call follows a survey conducted by University of Illinois professor Chris Lubienski, who studied 49 Auckland schools last year, finding around 36 school zones that did not match up with their geographic location.

His research found that many of those zones had been drawn to include more affluent suburbs and exclude poorer areas.

The research alleged that some schools made sure to cherrypick students from ballots by excluding students that appeared to be from a minority group or relatives of students unwanted by the school.

Mr Walsh said the research by Lubienski needed to be carefully scrutinised by the Education Ministry.

"This research is not proof that this is happening across the country, it needs to be looked at carefully.

"Any principals who believe they have seen this taking place need to be able to put forward concrete evidence to support their allegations."

Do you know any Wellington schools that have recently changed their zones? Contact

School zone maps for Wellington - source:

Contact Kerry McBride
Metro and Capital Day reporter
Twitter: @kerry_mcbride


The Dominion Post