Woodford house


Our Story

Celebrating 125 Years of History

In 2019, Woodford House proudly celebrated 125 years of educating young women. The School marked this significant milestone with a weekend of celebrations from 22-24 February and welcomed home over 900 Old Girls, former staff, board members, parents and friends. To mark this important milestone, the School commissioned the Woodford House documentary. Produced by Woodford House Old Girl, Kate Fraser, and husband Graham Ritchie, the documentary traces the history of Woodford House from its founding in 1894 by Mabel Annie Hodge to the present day. The film features many candid interviews with staff, students, and principals, past and present, as well as a large selection of archival footage sourced from around the country. Kate and Graham have worked their magic to create a compelling and insightful artefact for Woodford House, with plenty of doses of Old Girl humour.

Who We Are

Woodford House is a leading, boutique and girl-centric boarding and day school that provides every girl with an exceptional education and endless opportunities, allowing her to flourish and achieve her personal best.

We are committed to ensuring girls become more than they thought was possible by empowering them to shape the world. We do this by providing a stimulating, nurturing, creative and intellectual environment that challenges the girls to embrace opportunities, discover passions and develop emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically.

As a special character school, it is our moral purpose to educate girls to live and lead extraordinary lives.

Front of School 2015

Steeped in Tradition

Woodford House opened in 1894 with 22 students and five teachers. One hundred and twenty-three years on and we have 320 students, 35 teachers and 43 professional and ancillary staff.

In 2019 we will celebrate 125 years as a leading school for girls that provides outstanding education on national and international stages.

The distinguishing mark and spirit of Woodford House was discernible in the past, and it is today. This school will continue to stand strong for many years to come because it was founded on deep convictions.

Mabel Annie Hodge

Mabel Annie Hodge, the founding Principal of Woodford House, opened the School in Dr Hamilton’s old home on the corner of St Aubyn and Market streets in Hastings. There were 18 day girls and four boarders and her philosophy was “hand, body and brain must be developed together.”  The basic ingredients of the Woodford education, established over a century ago, are still true today.

Miss Hodge, a gifted teacher, was a woman with foresight and drive. In 1911, Miss Hodge relocated to the hills of Havelock North and opened a new school with 60 boarders only.  The hall and dining room used today are part of the original building, and they have been added to over the years with an extensive range of facilities. The grounds have also been landscaped to maximise the 18-hectares that overlooks the astonishing Heretaunga Plains.

The foundational vision of Miss Hodge and the School’s Founders has enabled us, and will continue to equip us, to provide best practice in girls’ education. As stewards and guardians of this Special Character School, we must cherish the centrality and integrity of this vision.

Special Character

We are an interdenominational school closely affiliated to the Anglican church and under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Waiapu.

The special character of Woodford House revolves around our Chapel and our spirituality in the Christian faith. Our services are enriched by principles of charity, honesty, tolerance and commitment. Our School Chapel was completed in 1928 and dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. It stands as the jewel of our school grounds. It is here that our Chaplain leads weekly services for all students.

Many families attend regular evening worship. The Chapel is used extensively in the life of the School, as well as for baptism and memorial services, and Woodford House Old Girl weddings.