Labour leader Andrew Little has poo-pooed the idea of 'metro schools' without school playing fields in some inner city areas, saying it would be 'disappointing' to abandon the traditional New Zealand schooling experience.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye has proposed some 'metro schools' in fast growing inner city areas such as Auckland where land was short.

Such schools would instead use nearby community facilities for playing fields and gyms.

Little said most parents would expect a grassed area for their children to play in at school.

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"It would be a pity if we lose sight of that. I think one of the great things about the New Zealand school experience is you do have a green space to run around in and kick a ball around or play bullrush in for those who allow it these days."

Little made the comments on the sidelines of Labour's election year Congress, where the focus is on housing, immigration and the pressure population growth puts on infrastructure such as transport in Auckland.

Little is proposing immigration changes to slow the numbers coming to New Zealand by targeting those on work and student visas.

Little said Auckland would be important in the election and he did not think National understood the city.

"I think the National Party, whether deliberately or not, gave up on Auckland a long time ago.

"They've completely misunderstood the challenge there is with housing and the urgent need to get on with it, I think they've understood how Aucklanders are feeling about congestion and the demand on public services."