Financial problems and a falling roll have prompted the resignation of the trustees of Te Aute College in Hawke's Bay.
The boarding school for boys counts leaders like Sir Apirana Ngata, Sir Howard Morrison and Sir Mason Durie among its alumni.
But another former pupil, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples says the school has incurred major debt which has in turn lowered student numbers.
The College Board of Trustees and Trust Board have asked for a commissioner to be appointed to handle the school's affairs.
Dr Sharples is urging iwi to provide money to save the school and help attract more students.
Classes at Te Aute College are expected to resume as normal this year.