Labour MPs who attended a charter school fundraiser were warned by leader Andrew Little that there would likely be media interest - given the party's strong opposition to the controversial schooling model.

Mr Little told Kelvin Davis - who is also the party's associate education spokesman - and Peeni Henare that he did not want them to attend the $250-a-seat fundraiser.

"I said it was my preference that they not go. They discussed it with me, [Peeni] had family connections to the school, which he felt was difficult to avoid," Mr Little said.

"They both wanted to support local kids who were going to the school, and that's what they saw as the most important part of the function.


"In the end, I explained what my preference was and it was their judgement, and to understand that potentially there would be media interest. Which it has now turned out there is."

The fundraiser was for a school run by the He Puna Marama Trust in Whangarei. Mr Davis is MP for Te Tai Tokerau.

Charter or "partnership" schools are publicly-funded but privately-run, and are strongly opposed by education unions.

Labour has pledged to scrap charter schools, and when approached by TV3 at the fundraiser, Mr Davis said he was there, "to support my nieces and nephews, to support Maori education".

"I think there are a number of anomalies in charter schools that need to be ironed out, to create a level playing field."

Labour's stated policy is to scrap charter schools.

Mr Little said that had not changed. Asked if it was a bad look for his associate education spokesman to have attended, he said education spokesman Chris Hipkins had lead the charge on the policy.

"He will continue to do that, so it's an area that Kelvin hasn't dealt with in terms of his delegations as associate education spokesperson."


Act Party leader David Seymour also attended the event, and said he was not surprised by the Labour MPs attendance: "I reckon those guys are a different breed from the average Labour person".

Charter schools were introduced as part of the Act's confidence and supply agreement with National.

Mr Seymour, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education, this month announced a third application for the publicly funded, privately owned schools is now open.

It is expected two schools will open in 2017, adding to the nine already operating in Auckland and Northland.

"If there are strong applications I will be going to Bill English and the Prime Minister saying, 'you have to fund more than two'...hopefully we will see more than two schools opening in 2017, it could be four or five," Mr Seymour said.