The name is changing, but the excellent education remains the same, says Fiona Green, principal of the newly named Taranaki Diocesan School for Girls.

It isn't the first time the school, formerly known as St Mary's Diocesan School has changed names, she says, as it was originally known as The Church School for Girls when it opened in 1915.

When the school name changed to St Mary's the word Diocesan was included in the name, but the relationship between the school and the Anglican church the word represented was not actually formalised says Fiona.

"Of course the school certainly lived to the values of the Anglican church, and there was certainly a clear connection, but it was never fully formalised before now."


With more than one St Mary's around the country, the Stratford school was sometimes confused with the other schools of the same name.

"We have even had mail go to the wrong St Mary's, which isn't a huge issue generally, just a case of redirecting it, but it can be very stressful when the girls are waiting for assessments or exam papers to arrive."

Fiona says the school board also wanted the new name to reflect that the school was not just for students who lived in Stratford.

"We have girls here from all around the region, as well as much further afield. We serve all of the diocese, not just one town."

As the closest secondary school to Mount Taranaki, it made sense to reflect that in the name, she says.

The name change has been discussed for some time before the new signs went up last week, and it would be true to say there was some reluctance to change the name from some of the Old Girls, Fiona says.

"St Mary's is very much part of their history, and the town's history, and we didn't want to throw that out. Names are important and we didn't want anyone in the school community to feel St Mary's didn't exist at all anymore."

It was to ensure the name St Mary's stayed as part of the school in the future that the school chapel was formally renamed last week. In the presence of students, staff, old girls, and members of the wider school community, Archbishop Sir David Moxon blessed the chapel now known as The Chapel of St Mary.


During the service, a plaque bearing the names of the girls who built the chapel in the 1950s was moved from its previous home in the vestry to a new location.

Archbishop Sir David Moxon and principal Fiona Green.
Archbishop Sir David Moxon and principal Fiona Green.

"While the names had always been in the chapel, before now there were in the vestry, which is out of sight for many. We have now placed those names front and centre of the chapel to serve as a daily reminder to our students, that we have always had feisty girls at this school!"

As part of the name change, the school logo has been redesigned and now features the mountain as part of it.

"It was important to us that the mountain it showed was from the Stratford side, as that is exactly what our girls see each day as they walk between lessons or play sports on the fields."

Fiona says while the school logo is changing now, a bigger uniform change is in the future too.

"There will be further consultation on that first, but we have already asked the girls to consider what a future uniform might be like. We held two mufti weeks, during which the girls wore clothing they felt would be suitable for a new uniform with one week focusing on winter wear and one on summer wear. I was really impressed with how the girls put thought into it and made some great choices which reflected what they are — young, modern women in the 21st century."