St John's College student Lucan Battison was suspended for
refusing to cut his hair and has his parents' support.
A 16-year-old student who has not been at school since he
was suspended for refusing to cut his hair last month will be
back in the classroom by Wednesday.
The case has centred around whether Lucan Battison is a
crusader for human rights or is being plain disobedient.
The Year 12 student was suspended from St John's College in
Hastings on May 22 after telling Principal Paul Melloy he
would not trim his long, curly locks.
Lucan's father Troy Battison sought a judicial review of the
suspension, which was heard in the High Court at Wellington
Justice David Collins asked the school's lawyer Richard
Harrison whether Mr Melloy could find a way for Lucan to
return to school today, with no repercussions, until Justice
Collins was able to make a decision on the review.
Mr Harrison said that would be fine, but asked whether Lucan
could return on Wednesday to give Mr Melloy time to speak
with staff about the situation.
Lucan, with his hair tied back, and his father were both at
Mr Melloy said it would be a "disaster" if Justice Collins
struck down the school's rules, which the school's community
had put in place, as that would result in major repercussions
across the country with other students not wanting to follow
school rules such as wearing a uniform.
When Mr Melloy initially asked Lucan to cut his hair, he
refused, and asked the principal to speak with his father.
"Straight away you've got a refusal of the principal's
request," Mr Harrison said.
"We've got continual disobedience."
His defiance of the rules was "harmful and dangerous" because
it could influence other pupils who could think Lucan's
actions were cool, Mr Harrison said.
Lucan's lawyer Jol Bates told the court Lucan followed in the
footsteps of human rights defenders including Martin Luther
King Jr and Kate Sheppard, who challenged authority on a
The school's rule around hair length was that it needed to be
off the collar and out of the student's eyes.
Lucan would wear his hair tied up, off the collar and out of
his eyes, so was therefore abiding by the policy and should
not have been suspended, Mr Bates said.
"We're not splitting hairs."
Lucan had been at the Catholic school for three years with
the same hairstyle, Mr Bates said.
He had curly hair, which if cut, would become "boofy and
turned into an afro", he said.
"He's simply not comfortable [with that]."
His hair was not a health and safety issue, nor was it a
distraction to other students, Mr Bates said.
He said Lucan was following the example of other human rights
"Certain people in history have stood up to laws that they
don't think are just and that was the context of that
comparison," he said.
Outside court Lucan said he was "pretty happy" about going
back to school this week.
"I'm looking forward to going back ... it's been pretty
He had a lot of friends supporting him, he said.
It was "overwhelming" that the process had made it to the
At no stage had he considered cutting his hair, but there had
been a lot of strain around the issue. "I had a lot of fights
If the judge ruled against him, Lucan said he did not know
whether he would decide to cut his hair or move to a
"I'll decide that then."
He was no rebel or human rights crusader, he said.
Lucan's father said they got a fair hearing and even if they
lost the fight, it was worth it.
"It was about Lucan being able to express himself."
He would leave it up to Lucan to decide what to do if the
ruling did not go their way, he said.
Earlier this year, Lucan received a bravery award for for
helping to save two women from drowning off a Napier beach in
January last year. He was also in the school's 1st XV rugby
team. Neither of those factors were taken into account when
Lucan was suspended, Mr Bates said.
Justice Collins reserved his decision.
Mr Melloy said he did not want to comment on the case.
* January, 2013: Helped rescue two distressed swimmers at
Waipatiki Beach near Napier;
* April, 2014: Receives a bravery award for his actions from
the Royal Humane Society;
* May 22, 2014: Is suspended from St John's College for
refusing to cut his hair;
* May/June, 2014: School refuses mediation with Lucan and his
* June 23, 2014: High Court judicial review into the