Rangitoto College has excellent host families who provide a New Zealand home for our international students. We are always keen to accept applications from people who are interested in becoming host families.
Hosting international students
Learning about a new culture through hosting an international student can be a very enriching experience, helping to enable people to understand other languages, food and customs.
International students aged 13-19 come to Rangitoto College from over 30 different countries. Some students stay for only a short time, while others stay for a number of years. Their reasons for coming to New Zealand can vary greatly. Some want to experience a different culture or improve their English. Some are excited by the sporting opportunities offered in New Zealand or the chance to spend time outdoors. Others come with clear academic goals and are focused on attaining NCEA or IB and going on to university in New Zealand or abroad.
Families who approach this experience with enthusiasm and an open mind find the experience very rewarding and begin relationships that can last a lifetime. Many of our host families have been to visit their ex-students overseas or have had international students return to New Zealand for special events in their lives.
Homestay families receive $300 per week ($320 for students under 14) to go towards the expenses of having another person in their family.
Selection of host families
Our host families are all different in size and make up, including single parents, families, couples and retirees. We welcome applications from anyone in the local area who speaks English in the home, has a clean, tidy home and a spare furnished bedroom, and has a desire to share their culture with an international student.
Before accepting a host family we are required to police vet anyone 18 or over in the house and visit the house to do an inspection. We must also visit the house during the year to ensure that it is still a suitable place for a student.
To become a host family, please email the Accommodation Manager Melinda Hobman; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matching host families and students
When we get new student applications, we look at the interests of the students and host families and try to ensure a good match of personalities and hobbies. Our Accommodation Manager chooses the family she thinks is most suitable and asks if they would like to host the student, sending them the student profile, enrolment dates and an introduction letter from the student.
When the family has confirmed they would like to host the student, the College contacts the student or their agent and provides them with the details of the host family. Often host families and students contact each other before the student arrives in New Zealand to start getting to know each other through email, phone or social media.
Host Families Experiences
It has been a privilege for us to host international students through Rangitoto College. The staff are very supportive of both hosts and students, and our experiences have been very positive. Our three young children are so much more aware of other countries, cultures, and languages now. They have also learnt what it means to welcome people into our home and be considerate of others. The Hames Family
Hosting students from other countries brought the world to us! We have been introduced to different cultures, customs and traditional foods and learned about the day-to-day life in other countries. Many of our students are still in contact with us years after their exchange. Some have come back on holiday to see us and our children have been able to visit them and stay with their families. We now have friends all around the world and I can honestly say it has been a truly rewarding and enriching experience. The Padoa Family
Our children loved gaining a big sister; she became part of the family. Sarah Johnston
We have had International students from Rangitoto for eight years. We have had students from South America China and Europe, boys and girls ages ranging from 14-18. We are a family of five with three girls, now aged 24, 21 and 17, so all were of school age when we had the first students. It is difficult to quantify the range of experiences we have had with these students. All were different but the vast majority were students looking to embrace the kiwi culture and lifestyle and also ultimately become an active part of our family unit. Our girls always enjoyed having a new member of the family to connect with and we have had reunions with some of our students in Europe and Australia, and of course many are still constantly in touch through social media. We as host parents also found the new faces in the family a real positive addition as we were able to show off the beautiful North shore as well as take many of them on our holidays to the far North and to the centre of the North Island as part of our family unit which they always enjoyed. We also found that the students were all really keen to talk about their own culture and lifestyle and contrasted many aspects of their lives at home and in NZ. The ability to walk freely and to take public transport to Auckland and further afield was always a real highlight for the students many of whom lived in communities where it was impossible to have the same amount of safe personal freedom of movement. I think this taste of a more independent and community style life experience was the most important thing the majority of our students take with them back to their own countries. Many parents of international students have commented on how much more outgoing and self-reliant their sons and daugthers were on their return from their exchange and they all saw this as a real positive and worthwhile outcome. The Jones Family
What is expected of host families?
We ask our host families to:
- provide three meals a day and snacks (including a packed lunch during the school week)
- provide a safe, clean room with a bed, bed linen, desk, lamp and heating
- do laundry for the student
- show their students how to get to and from school (e.g. where the bus stop is, how to access the bus schedule, how to walk to school). Many host parents drop their students off and pick them up during the first week if they are able to.
- spend time talking with their students and try to draw them into conversations to give them confidence speaking in English
- involve their student in their family life
- be warm, patient and caring yet able to be firm and set boundaries
All host families are provided with a guidebook when our Accommodation Manager visits for the first time. The College has an Accommodation Manager and an Accommodation Support staff member who work with host families to ensure a successful hosting experience. With extensive experience, they can offer advice on how to handle any situations that may arise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who picks up the student from the airport?
Usually our Accommodation Manager picks students up from the airport or a professional shuttle service is used if we have too many pick-ups at the same time. Some of our host families like to pick up students themselves and we are happy to remunerate them for their trip to the airport if they would like to do that.
Do students find it difficult to live in another country?
It takes time to adjust to a new culture and to a new family. We encourage students to have an open mind and talk to their host family about any differences they are finding, e.g. in their home country, many students would not have been required to do any cleaning; however, in New Zealand it is acceptable to ask children to help out by keeping their room tidy and doing a few chores such as setting the table or helping with the dishes. Differences in food can sometimes be hard for students so it can be useful to ask them what they like eating and suggest that you all cook something together from time to time, perhaps trying recipes from their country. During orientation we give students a list of questions to talk about with their host families to try to understand how life will be in their new family.
What can we do about the language barrier?
Students really appreciate it if host families learn a little of their language – even one word helps them feel welcome and accepted. Omniglot has phrases in a lot of different languages if you are keen to learn.
Some students have excellent English and you will be able to communicate with them very easily. Others may find the language more challenging and it would be helpful if to speak more slowly and choose different words to try to explain things if they haven’t understood. It is also important to remember how hard group conversations are in a different language as everyone talks over each other and leaves sentences half finished. Asking students direct questions give them an opportunity to participate in the conversation.
Can students travel around New Zealand?
Students may choose to go travelling in the holidays or weekends with package tours offered through the school. Students are not allowed to travel alone or with friends.
What happens if a student wants to change homestay or if we can’t host the student anymore?
Sometimes a change in circumstances or cultural differences mean that we have to move a student to a new homestay. One week’s notice is required or one week’s payment in lieu of notice.
What happens when students go travelling or are away from the homestay over a school holiday?
If a student is absent from the homestay for more than five nights the homestay payment is reduced to $10 per night, as long as one weeks’ notice has been given. Over the Christmas holidays students will pay a maximum of $600 for holding their room and are allowed to leave their luggage there.
What happens if we have to go away for a night?
No student is to be left unsupervised overnight at any stage, regardless of their age. If host families are going to be away, they need to inform the College and make sure a reliable adult will provide proper supervision for their student. If they cannot find a suitable adult then they need to give sufficient notice to the College so a temporary home can be found for their student. The College will need to pay the temporary homestay so the homestay payment will be adjusted.
If you're interested in becoming a host family or have any other questions, please contact our Accommodation Manager (email@example.com).