9 Mar 2016

Old boys suspended from Facebook group over racial comments

4:12 pm on 9 March 2016

Four former students of an Auckland school have been suspended from a Facebook group after complaining the school has too many Māori and Pacific Island students.

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Four members of the Dilworth Old Boys Association, including former school principal Murray Wilton, aired their grievances with the current ethnic makeup of the school, saying it went against the "founder's will".

Nearly half of all students at the full boarding school are from Māori and Pacific Island backgrounds, and a quarter are Pākehā.

The chair of the school's board, Jon Wain, said the vision of the school's founder, James Dilworth, was for the school to give opportunities to students in need.

"We draw our boys from lower socio-economic areas, so our statistics correspond very closely with the ethnic makeup of those communities."

"That said, we do not seek to impose any ethnic balance - we're interested in the boy, we're interested the degree of need in the family."

Mr Wain said the school did not "engage in any social engineering" to try and achieve a specific outcome.

He said it was really disappointing a former principal had been involved in making those comments.

Dilworth is owned and operated by a charitable trust, established in 1894 after James Dilworth left the majority of his wealth for its establishment, according to the school's website.

The president of the Dilworth Old Boys Association, Grant Steel, would not comment on the suspension, but said the group's focus was on following the school's vision.

"Our priority is to focus attention on the amazing work being done at Dilworth School to educate as many boys as possible, from families in straitened circumstances, to reach and maintain their full potential and become good and useful members of society."