Relatives of the schoolboy accused of stabbing a West Auckland high school teacher are on their way to New Zealand.

The a 17-year-old Korean student is due to appear in the Auckland District Court today charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He was arrested in Blockhouse Bay about an hour after yesterday's attack on Avondale College Japanese language teacher Dave Warren.

At the court this morning, Korean consulate staff member Jun Lee said the schoolboy's family were on their way to New Zealand from South Korea.

Mr Lee said he was in court this morning to provide support for the homestay family,

One member of the family told nzherald.co.nz that the accused schoolboy had been in New Zealand for two years and at Avondale College all of 2008.

She said he was also in Mr Warren's class last year. Avondale College yesterday said the student had been at the school just three or four weeks.

Court has been adjourned and the accused has yet to appear.

'Racial sensitivity'

Avondale College was in lockdown for most of yesterday, after Mr Warren was wounded about 11.40am.

Students say racial sensitivity could have been the catalyst for the stabbing.

Students told the Herald Mr Warren's attacker was a Korean national who principal Brent Lewis said had been at the school "three or four weeks".

One student, who did not want to be named under threat of expulsion, said an incident had taken place at the school on Monday.

"Yesterday, some kids in that class said [the teacher] must've said a joke about South Korea - and that guy's from South Korea."

The 20-student class were studying NCEA level two and three Japanese.

Mr Warren was stabbed just below his right shoulder while writing on a whiteboard, standing with his back to the class.

A student who had been waiting to see the nurse said a teacher and another pupil had burst in, shouting that a teacher had been stabbed.

"We were in the nurse's room and one of the students in the class and a teacher came in shouting for the nurse to come, someone's been stabbed - they said he was on the floor.

"The nurse left and the bells went off."

Police and ambulance services arrived shortly after, and Mr Warren was taken to Auckland Hospital in a serious condition.

Mr Lewis said he knew nothing of claims that a racial remark had triggered the attack.

However, one teacher said staff were told that "an incident" had occurred between Mr Warren and his alleged attacker in class on Monday.

Students gave different assessments of Mr Warren's teaching style.

One told TV3's Campbell Live Mr Warren, 49, was "all right".

"He would pick on [me] - because I'm Japanese myself - he picked on Japanese people because he expected us to know Japanese."

Another told the Herald some of Mr Warren's "usual" comments had the potential to offend.

"If we're running in the hall, he'll say: 'You, the big Islander one over there, get over here'."

Parents arrived early to collect students who witnessed the attack. Many of the teens had their faces covered with jerseys.

Mr Warren was still in Auckland hospital when the Herald visited his Waterview home last night.

His flatmate, who asked not to be named, said Mr Warren was a "very kind man" who is very fit and often rode his bicycle to school.

Prime Minister John Key- who met Korean President Lee Myung-Bak yesterday - said he was shocked by the stabbing.

"This is alarming ... but we need to understand whether it's an isolated incident out of left field or whether something more serious is going on."