Ballots for out-of-zone places at popular schools may become a thing of the past because children of former students are snapping them up.
Principals say the competition got stiffer two years ago with a law change that added the families of former students to the group who get first call on out-of-zone places at over-subscribed schools.
Auckland Grammar School and Wellington College say the sons of old boys are taking places that would otherwise be allocated through a ballot.
At both schools they will account for between 20 and 30 of Year 9 enrolments this year, while balloted places have been reduced to about a dozen.
The colleges say it is good that families can continue their association with the schools.
Auckland Grammar School headmaster Tim O'Connor expects that, eventually, no out-of-zone places will be allocated by ballot to boys whose fathers did not attend his school.