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.

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 Vanesa Pearce;

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.