One of Auckland's leading musicians has stepped down as conductor of the city's symphony orchestra amid allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a student he taught at a top high school.
Peter Thomas sent an email to members of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday saying he was resigning as the group's conductor and music director.
It comes after he also earlier resigned as head of Epsom Girls Grammar School's music programme last year and now faces a Teaching Council investigation into his behaviour.
The student, now 19, told Stuff in July she had a sexual relationship with Thomas and had become dependent on him.
The Herald tried to reach Thomas for comment.
In the email he sent on Wednesday and seen by the Herald, he didn't say why he had resigned as Auckland Symphony Orchestra conductor.
"I have loved working with you over the last 11 years and am very proud of what we have all done," Thomas wrote.
However, in an email he sent to members just one day earlier on Tuesday, August 24, he had said he was "challenging these accusations" made by his former EGGS student and wanted to continue conducting next year.
"With regard to the article (Sunday 4 July); it was a shock to me, my family, and my friends," Thomas wrote in the email.
"I realise it also impacted you and the whole ASO community. I have been challenging these accusations through the proper channels and will continue to do so."
Thomas went on to suggest bringing in guest conductors for the orchestra for the rest of the year to give "things time to settle down".
"My suggestion for the remainder of 2021 and beyond is as follows," he wrote.
"I will organise guest conductors and repertoire for the October and December concerts.
"Next year, I will resume conducting the orchestra. This will give things time to settle down."
Thomas said he had the backing of sponsors and guest musicians.
"I have contacted sponsors, venues and soloists and they are happy to continue to work with the ASO and me as music director," he wrote.
"I have also had a number of calls from people interested in joining us, as well as audience members looking forward to seeing us in action."
As well as formerly teaching at EGGS, Thomas had been involved in a Saturday morning music programme called the Remuera Music School.
The group had been providing private music lessons this year, including after Thomas stepped down as a teacher with EGGS and was informed he was under Teaching Council investigation.
Thomas also started another company last year called Orchestrated Events.
The Orchestrated Event website's homepage states it holds "Engaging Kids Concerts".
"Interactive children's concerts which come to your school with visits by a variety of exceptional professional musicians," he said.
The Herald asked the Teaching Council in June if it was aware of Thomas' new company and whether it had concerns about it.
"If a teacher has agreed to an 'undertaking not to teach' while under investigation by the Council, they are not allowed to work in a teaching position until the investigation has been fully resolved," a spokeswoman said.
"Other forms of non-teaching employment do not fall under the Teaching Council's jurisdiction."
The Teaching Council also said in June Thomas was still under investigation but that it could give no further updates.
Earlier in January this year, it said an "investigation into allegations has been ongoing since October 2020 and we have no further updates".
"We are unable to provide specific details about ongoing investigations or cases for the purposes of confidentiality, privacy and to ensure natural justice."