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The prominent businessman who hosted a pre-ball party for King's College students - including one who died later in the night - says it was professionally supervised and none of the teenagers were drunk when they left his home.
And the headmaster of King's last night defended his college's reputation, saying reports that the ball was fuelled by heavy drinking were "completely inaccurate".
Year 13 student David Gaynor died in Auckland City Hospital on Saturday night, just hours after attending the party and ball. He is the fourth King's student to die in less than 18 months.
The 17-year-old had started his evening at the pre-ball function organised by Craig Norgate where beer, wine and champagne was served to about 100 people, including students.
Questions have now been raised - including by the family of King's boy James Webster, who died last year after a night of binge drinking - as to why students need to be supplied with alcohol before the ball at Eden Park.
Mr Norgate, the former boss of Fonterra, last night defended the party, reportedly at his Remuera home, saying none of the students were intoxicated when they left in limousines for the ball.
Mr Norgate said he knew David well; he had been a good friend of his daughter. "He was a great kid. It's tragic ... He was a great sportsman. It's very sad."
David's father is Herald business columnist and financial investment commentator Brian Gaynor.
Former Auckland City mayor John Banks said David's death was heartbreaking for his family and the school, which had lost three other students since the beginning of last year.
Mr Banks' son Alex was drinking with James Webster the night before he died.
"Again and again, we don't seem to learn the hard lessons of tragedy," John Banks said. David Gaynor's death "comes so soon after a litany of hardship for the school".
"It may be time for the college to set up a small audit team to just see where this is all going so badly wrong.
"It is coming to my attention on a regular basis that all is not right at King's College around bad behaviour associated with alcohol and drugs."
However, headmaster Bradley Fenner said last night that a lot of work had been done since James Webster died on educating students about drugs and alcohol.
"We know this is a society issue - it's not just a King's College thing - and the recent articles in the newspapers and elsewhere about young people and alcohol ... certainly show that these are big issues."
He said allegations of an alcohol-fuelled ball on Saturday night were "completely inaccurate". Students were checked for signs of impairment before they were allowed into the function.
"It was an alcohol-free event, as you'd expect with a school occasion. We monitored the students as they arrived to check their condition at that time."
Mr Fenner said one girl, who was not from King's, was deemed to be intoxicated and was not allowed in.
An ambulance was called as a precaution, as were her parents, who took her home.
He said the conduct of the other students was "very good" and he believed the night had gone well.
Mr Fenner said David's parents had collected their son early from the ball but he would not say why.
Police are now investigating his death on behalf of the coroner.
Mr Fenner said King's was focused on supporting grieving students, many of whom gathered at the college's chapel yesterday to support each other.
"We had three awful tragedies last year and whilst it's over a year ago, that is still relatively fresh in everyone's mind, and the students and staff and whole community have lived through that and are now faced with repeating that.
"[David's death] is just devastating for us but it doesn't mean we stop or give up. As I say to the students, when something bad happens to you the only response is to get up and get going."
The school had been in touch with the Gaynor family several times yesterday and would be helping them with funeral arrangements this week.
Many of David Gaynor's friends gathered at school yesterday to "tell stories" and relive "great memories" they had with him, Mr Fenner said.
"He was a very popular boy, got on well with everyone, a laid-back sort of a character, and this has just been devastating."
A Facebook page set up yesterday for the teenager, who was a talented sportsman, was flooded with tributes.
February 2010: William Thode, 15, dies in his sleep at his boarding house from a heart infection.
May 2010: James Webster, 16, dies from alcohol poisoning after drinking a bottle of vodka at a party in Grey Lynn.
May 2010: Michael Treffers, 15, falls to his death from a motorway overbridge.