Woodford House celebrates 125 years in 2019


Renowned Hawke’s Bay girls’ school Woodford House will celebrate its 125th anniversary in February 2019.

The leading boarding and day school, from its idyllic location in the rolling hills of Havelock North, provides exceptional education to girls in years 7 to 13. As a special character school, steeped in tradition, Woodford House remains steadfast in its commitment to offer a stimulating, girl-centric environment that provides every girl with the opportunity to thrive and excel in her learning.

The anniversary events, taking place on the weekend of 22-24 February 2019, include a cocktail party, Gala Lunch, Chapel services, tours and an exhibition of archival displays (please see details below).

The celebrations are open to the public, in order to give Old Girls, friends and supporters of the school, and the wider Hawkes Bay community, the opportunity to celebrate the respected school’s significant milestone.

The boarding-focused, girls’ school was established by an unwavering British expat named Annie Mabel Hodge, who was passionately focused on giving “the girls of the Dominion of New Zealand the advantages of the English training, adapted to suit the conditions of this country.”

Mabel, as she was known, moved to Hastings from the UK in 1893 with her mother and younger brother.

She took over a small school of 18 pupils in Hastings. Soon, after learning a large house was for sale, she was able to raise a loan of £500 from the Bank of New South Wales (now known as Westpac Banking Corporation) and put plans in place to open a boarding school.

Hodge named the school Woodford House and it opened in February 1894 with four boarders and 18 day pupils. She and four other teachers taught English, German, French, arithmetic and music.

By 1905 there were 24 boarders and 51 day pupils, and by 1908 a larger space was needed. A company, Woodford House Limited, was formed, and the site at Havelock North selected for the region’s new boarding school.

These days the school is focused on providing a stimulating, nurturing, creative and intellectual environment which encourages students to achieve personal excellence, and live and lead extraordinary lives.


What has remained throughout the school’s 125 years of educating young women is a strong connection to its heritage and the Hawke’s Bay region, and most importantly keeping the Woodford House Girl at the centre. The School has maintained its focus on producing women who embrace opportunities, discover passions and are well-developed emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically.


Woodford House celebrates excellent results, including a clean sweep with 100% NCEA pass rates in 2016, and 100%, 100% and 97% pass rates in Levels 1, 2 and 3, respectively, in 2017. The school’s excellence and merit endorsements are also outstanding, and a reflection of the school’s commitment to personalised learning in a stimulating environment.

The pursuit of excellence and empowering students to be ‘better than the day before’ have always been prominent ideals in the culture of Woodford House. This year, the school is bringing this to life with a number of initiatives under their new “Home to Excellence” tagline.


Highly-regarded Woodford House alumni include actress Dame Kate Harcourt; former Director of the NZ National Portrait Gallery, Avenal McKinnon; Barrister and former TV presenter, Judith Fyfe; TVNZ’s Director of Content, Cate Slater; and Film-maker Kate Fraser among many others.


Tickets for the 125th Anniversary are now on sale at www.woodford.school.nz/125years. Some activities, such as the Chapel services, are very limited in number so people are encouraged to register early.




For more information, images and interviews, please contact Siobhan Waterhouse on +64 22 126 4149 or siobhan@mrfahrenheit.nz







Friday 22 February, 2019

Cocktail Party 


Reconnect with friends during a beautiful cocktail evening on the Woodford House lawn.


Saturday 23 February, 2019

Gala Lunch, Tauroa House Tours, Woodford House School Tours and 125th Anniversary events


An exquisite Gala Lunch, catered by Orton’s, will commence at Woodford House from 12pm. Guests can also take a guided tour and a trip down memory lane at the archival exhibition and view a screening of the 125th Anniversary documentary created by Old Girl Kate Fraser and her partner Graeme Ritchie.


The 45-minute guided tour is a great opportunity to visit the refurbished Boarding Houses and the new Dame Kate Harcourt Performing Arts Centre.


There is also is a special opportunity to enjoy a tour of Tauroa House in Havelock North. Tauroa House, built in 1916, was commissioned by Hawke’s Bay sheep farmer Thomas Mason Chambers. Mr Chambers gifted twenty acres of land to Woodford House when it outgrew its old site and is one of the School’s original Founders.


Sunday 24 February

Chapel Services


The Chapel of St Francis of Assisi lies physically and spiritually at the heart of the school and has always been integral to school life. On Sunday, guests are invited to a special Chapel service followed by “Sticky”, a much loved Woodford House morning tea tradition.


Founder’s Walkway


As part of the Anniversary celebrations, Woodford House has announced an exciting project that will both honour our Founders and the School’s rich history, as well as enrich the overall Woodford House experience – the Founders’ Walkway.

Generously supported by the Woodford Foundation, the Founders’ Walkway is an ambitious, multi-year project to create a permanent, sustainable and beautiful walkway that will take people on a picturesque journey from the moment they enter the gates, through the ground’s flora and fauna, and up to the School.

Please find further details about the Founders’ Walkway here: http://www.woodford.school.nz/community/founders-walkway/

Siobhan Waterhouse