Hairy wonders who made good

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014

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Two New Plymouth District councillors and the mayor have all been in trouble for their hair.

While one Hastings schoolboy has re-ignited the debate over hair codes at high school, New Plymouth's community leaders prove an unruly mop does not always lead to a bad end.

John "Horse" McLeod was suspended from Spotswood College because of his long locks and told the Taranaki Daily News rules got in the way of individuality.

McLeod said that during the 1970s longer hair was trendy because of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones."I spent two weeks sitting outside the principal's office in fifth form because of my long hair," he said.

"I was suspended from going to class until I got a hair cut."

The district councillor said rules around hair length were "ridiculous". "Learning is the most important thing and we should be encouraging individuality," he said.

Shaun Biesiek said he was given an ultimatum while at New Plymouth Boys' High School.

"They told me to cut my hair or leave, so I left, joined a band and found a job.

"It's funny because it was Lynn Bublitz who I had that talk with."

The hair issue has been raised after 16-year-old Hastings boy Lucan Battison was suspended by St John's College because his hair was too long.

He is heading to court and seeking a review of the decision made by the school which has an "off the collar" and "out of the eyes" policy.

Though never suspended, New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd was also given the hard word at school. "I was a bit of a rebel," he said. "When I was at school the mullet was the thing to have, so I tried to grow one but ended up looking like a dishevelled sheep because my hair is curly."

South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop said he never got in trouble while attending Hawera High. "They used to come round with a pencil and measure it; back then you weren't allowed to have it longer than the middle of your ear," he said.

Former mayor Peter Tennent said he never had a run-in about his style of cut.

"My hair goes a bit frizzy as it gets longer, so it's advantageous to keep it short."

Tennent said he encouraged rules and dress codes at school as it prepared students for the real world where certain standards were expected.

Francis Douglas Memorial College principal Martin Chamberlain admitted to having longer hair and sideburns in his younger days. "That was in the 1970s when things were different."

Chamberlain said his school had the same rules as St John's.

"They are there to stop outlandish hairstyles like dreads and mohawks.

"Uniforms and hair rules are used as a social leveller, so you can't tell the rich kids from the poor kids and there is no pressure to be outlandish."

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Chamberlain said the school had lost students because of the rules in the past but not for a number of years.

At Spotswood College the only rule was around hair colour, principal Mark Bowden said.

"It has to be natural colour, we have had issue with students coming with fluoro hair."

Bowden said rules were a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

"We want to encourage individuality and also unity."

New Plymouth Boys' High School's rules required hair be groomed, off the collar, of natural colour and a sensible style, principal Michael McMenamin said.

"We expect staff and students to be well presented," he said.

"It's not a major at our school, I tell the boys to get a hair cut and they say yes sir."

- Taranaki Daily News

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