The length of James Hunt's blond hair may become a test of the extent of school independence if the Government pushes through a proposed shift of school powers.
The 13-year-old started at Auckland Grammar this week but was only allowed to enrol after his mother Heidi Hunt ticked a box stating that he would abide by the school rules, which state that a student's hair cannot touch his collar and "should not be long enough to be tied up in any form".
The family held out against cutting his hair until the last possible minute, hoping that Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor would let him keep it. But he finally had his hair cut at 5pm on Tuesday, the evening before Grammar's school year started on Wednesday.
The family believes that a regional education "hub" might overturn the school rule.
James' grandmother Anne Hunt, who has written books on legal issues, welcomed the proposal that the hubs should "assume all the legal responsibilities and liabilities currently held by school boards of trustees".
"What I am excited about with the school hubs is that the boards of trustees are losing some of their power to hubs that have got far more expertise in these issues," she said.
She said the family was considering a legal challenge of the school's hair rule under the Bill of Rights Act.
A 2014 High Court judgment in the case of Napier schoolboy Lucan Battison said schools needed to consider "whether or not any hair rule would breach a student's right to autonomy, individual dignity and his rights to freedom of expression affirmed by Section 14 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act".
But James also wanted to attend Auckland Grammar, his local school.
"I want to go to Grammar because they have a good cricket coach and his son plays for the England team. Cricket is my favourite sport. I have played for Cornwall Cricket Club for three and a half years."
James, who has lived all his life in the Grammar zone, has had long hair since he was a toddler in memory of his grandfather Paul Hunt, a musician who was expelled from school for long hair and kept his hair long until he died, aged 55, the day before James was born.
O'Connor told the Weekend Herald the school rules were "regularly canvassed, reviewed and discussed with our school community, who do support our approach".
The chairman of the taskforce that has proposed regional hubs, Bali Haque, said he did not see the hubs getting involved in school rules .
"It's like uniforms, it's about the ethos and character of the school," he said. "We do not want the hubs to get into those sorts of issues because that is a school matter."