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The new Principal of Iona College, Helen Armstrong, brings a wealth of knowledge to her new role, with 28 years of teaching and leadership experience in co-educational and single-sex schools, both in England and New Zealand.

Helen joined Iona College from Baradene College of the Sacred Heart, Auckland, where she was Deputy Principal and prior to that, Head of Science.

It is a mark of the high regard in which she was held at Baradene, that five of her former colleagues made the journey to Hawke’s Bay to witness her inauguration at Iona.

Reflecting on her new position, Helen said “Iona College has a rich history, and I am honoured to be able to lead the College into the future. I have been thoroughly welcomed into the Hawke’s Bay community and feel blessed to have been given this opportunity”.

Growing up in the small Derbyshire spa town of Buxton, Helen was encouraged to believe that girls could do anything, with determination, hard work, and support.

As the new Principal of Iona College, it’s a philosophy she wants to share with every student.

“The school’s goal of Empowering Girls for Life is evident in all aspects of the school. I hope to inspire students to think critically, to try new things, to further develop their passion for learning, and support them to be the best that they can be in a loving and caring environment.”

Iona, after a recent run of academic, sporting and cultural successes, is already in a strong position. Helen sees her role as helping the school to take a step towards the next stage of excellence.

A major factor in achieving this is building strong, positive relationships between students and staff, a style of relationship where they work together to achieve desired outcomes.

“I see it as working with the girls, for the girls. It is always about the girls”, says Helen.

Helen believes that Iona offers a wonderful opportunity for all girls. “With a focus on high academic performance and wellbeing, and a commitment to the personal development of all students, Iona provides an inclusive education.”

Helen stresses that teamwork is key. Everyone has a part to play in making a college a success: students, staff, parents, iwi and local community and she is excited about working together.

As well as our focus on academic excellence and wellbeing, Helen sees further development of performing arts and sporting excellence as another priority. Iona’s stellar achievements on the Hockey field in recent years have already inspired many girls who play other sports to try and rise to similar heights. The opportunity to perform in the award-winning Blyth Performing Arts Centre is a fabulous experience for our talented musicians, actors and dancers.

As she walks through the beautiful surroundings, she says “The facilities are exceptional, catering to every girl’s needs, be they academic, sporting, performing or artistic.  We are also incredibly privileged to have a superb roster of dedicated educators, coaches and mentors amongst our staff”.

The first term has been something of a whirlwind for Helen, immersing herself in her new role, and in the fabric of Iona, but Hawke’s Bay is quickly becoming home for Helen and her family. Helen has already run the Air New Zealand Hawkes Bay 10 km with her daughter and has been asked to represent Hawke’s Bay in Badminton. Helen is looking forward to her two adult sons visiting the Bay soon, exploring the region with them and sampling the best the Bay has to offer.


The Iona College Council, Board of Trustees and Parents’ and Friends’ community wish Helen every success for the future.