An Auckland Grammar student is taking his school to court after he was punished for not cutting his hair.

James Hunt, who is in Year 9, was stood down for a day last week after refusing to cut his hair. The school's rules state that students' hair must not touch the collar.

James last cut his hair in January to allow him to begin school. The 13-year-old wore his hair long in memory of his grandfather Paul Hunt, who died a day before he was born and was once expelled from school for his long hair.

James has employed lawyer Jol Bates to challenge Auckland Grammar's rule. Bates successfully defended St John's College student Lucan Battison in 2014 after the then-16 year-old was suspended for long hair.

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That judgement said schools need needed to consider "whether or not any hair rule would breach a student's right to autonomy, individual dignity and his rights to freedom of expression affirmed by Section 14 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act".

Bates said there was "no evidence whatsoever" that James' hair length was causing a harmful or dangerous example to his fellow students.

He said in the St John's College case, their rules were struck down by the judge on the basis that they were uncertain and vague.

But the judgement did not clarify whether the school rules breached students' human rights or were unlawful. He hoped that James Hunt's case would provide an opportunity to clarify this.

"The judgement gave a tailwind to the idea that the rule was unlawful, but did not go that far," he said.

Auckland Grammar School student James Hunt last cut his hair in January so he could start school. Photograph by Doug Sherring
Auckland Grammar School student James Hunt last cut his hair in January so he could start school. Photograph by Doug Sherring

Auckland Grammar has refused to budge on its rules.

Principal Tim O'Connor said earlier this year that the rules were "regularly canvassed, reviewed and discussed with our school community, who do support our approach".

James' mother Heidi Hunt once said they would not go to Auckland Grammar if he was forced to cut his hair.

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But the family changed plans, saying the school was the only one they were zoned for.

James had always had long hair, his mother said.

"It's who he is."

James said in January that he wanted to go to Auckland Grammar because it had a good cricket coach.

"Cricket is my favourite sport," he said.