Revenue Minister Peter Dunne and Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses became embroiled in a public slanging match today over the college's decision to ban 1000 pupils from the McEvedy Shield athletics competition on Tuesday.
Mr Dunne tweeted this morning that the decision by the college to bar pupils from attending the prestigious secondary school event at Newtown Park appeared to be an ''authoritarian over-reaction.''
The 1000 boys were banned by Mr Moses following poor behaviour exhibited by pupils surrounding last year's St Patrick's College Town victory.
Despite the ban, ''about 100 boys'', who are now facing detentions to make up for lost time which should have been spent at school, gatecrashed Tuesday's event.
Asked to elaborate on his Twitter comment, Mr Dunne told the Dominion Post the college may have over-reacted.
The MP for Ohariu said Wellington College had placed itself in a very difficult position by banning the boys from the event.
"Without knowing all the facts schools put themselves in a very difficult position when they take stringent acts that they get called upon to enforce," Mr Dunne said.
The college needed to put things in perspective, not bar people from an event because of alleged transgressions which occurred a year ago, according to Mr Dunne.
"The McEvedy Shield has a very proud history and is very much part of the Wellington sporting tradition. To ban pupils from attending the McEvedy Shield may scar their memories of their school years ... for life," Mr Dunne said.
Reacting to these comments, Mr Moses said Mr Dunne was undoubtedly a very effective revenue minister.
''He does not come to me asking how to run his portfolio. Nor do I come to him seeking his advice on how to run my school,'' Mr Moses said.
He remained perfectly comfortable with the decision made to ban the 1000 boys and the 100 gatecrashers who defied his ruling would be placed on detention to make up for the time they should have been at college.
Banned pupils told the Dominion Post about 200 of them met at Wellington Railway Station yesterday morning.
The pupil revolt was organised on social media websites and many boys who met at the railway station then made their way to Newtown Park as pre-arranged.
When they arrived at the ground many gained access by jumping the fence at the rear of the athletics stadium.
They were there confronted by a group of Wellington College teachers who were waiting for them and ordered them to go to school.
Many of them left the venue immediately while others are understood to have remained secreted at the venue throughout the day.
Mr Moses said the attendance ban had been imposed on boys from year 10, 11, 12 and 13.
He said 400 boys from the school roll of about 1500 had been permitted to attend the event.
''Year nine pupils who were not involved last year, prefects and peer support leaders were permitted to attend.''
Mr Moses said he himself had been at the venue all day and had no idea of the number of pupils who had not turned up to school.
A year 13 pupil spoken to said he participated in the pupil revolt as he had not behaved poorly last year and viewed himself as having been unfairly punished.
It was his last opportunity to attend a McEvedy Shield event as a pupil, he said, and he was determined to get there no matter what.
Mr Moses said a group of banned boys had arrived at the ground this morning.
''Yes, a group of kids came up here. I do not know how many there were. They were told not to come and they came up here. They were sent back,'' Mr Moses said.
There would be further sanctions imposed against these boys.
''If kids have defied the reasonable instructions of the school it is likely there will be a sanction. What that is we do not know at this stage.
''The McEvedy Shield is a lot of fun for the boys but there are times when exuberance can go over the top. We have to deal with unruly behaviour on buses and behaviour on the trains, that sort of thing.
''We made it very clear last year that if behaviour was not up to the required standards then there would be consequences.''
Mr Moses said he expected some (banned) boys may have remained at the venue throughout the day.
''To try and track them down would have been counter-productive. Sanctions have not been discussed but they will be. We'll work it out among ourselves,'' Mr Moses said.
Rubbing further salt in to the Wellington College wounds was the fact that the St Patrick's College Town team retained the McEvedy Shield ahead of rivals Wellington College.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you always wear a helmet while cycling?Related story: Cyclists creative on cycle helmet waivers