Old boys of troubled Auckland Catholic co-ed boarding school Hato Petera have lodged a Treaty of Waitangi claim on the property and surrounding land, including AUT's Northcote campus.

Past pupils of the college in Northcote referred to the land's history and how the Church got it 165 years ago when lodging their Treaty claim, known as Wai 1385.

This week, it was announced that GP and former New Zealander of the Year Dr Lance O'Sullivan would spearhead change at the school, where the roll has fallen below 100, buildings are dilapidated and pupils suffer from bullying and infighting.

Frank Rawiri, an old boy who represents Nga Tauira Tawhito o Hato Petera, a pan-tribal organisation with 1200 members made up of affiliated Catholic Maori who share an allegiance to the college and which is claiming the land, outlined grievances.

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"Our Treaty claim concerns the 376 acres [152ha] awarded ... by way of a Crown grant to the Catholic Church in 1850 and the subsequent maladministration of that land," his submission to the Waitangi Tribunal said.

He also told how neighbouring AUT land was claimed.

"The Auckland University of Technology land on Akoranga Drive in Northcote was identified as falling within Section 8A of the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 and it was submitted that it is open for the tribunal to make a binding recommendation for these lands to be returned to Nga Tauira. The Crown, nor any other parties, did not object to this submission. If this land were to be returned to us, the benefit to Hato Petera College and the education of Maori in general, would be tremendous," Mr Rawiri's evidence said.

Late last year, Mr Rawiri told Radio NZ: "We are at a crisis point with the future of the school. If the Wai 1385 claim is not settled the way we would like to settle it, we may as well say goodbye to Hato Petera."

A spokeswoman for AUT said it was unaware of any Waitangi claim.

The Auckland Catholic Diocese has granted Hato Petera a five-year extension, sparking fears it wanted to shut the school and sell the land.

An Education Review Office report cited the Treaty claim as one of a number of issues at Hato Petera, along with safety and accommodation concerns. Uncertainty surrounded the tenure of the lease agreement on the school and the hostel facilities, it said.

A spokeswoman for Bishop Pat Dunn said he was overseas so no comment was possible.

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