A Guide to Host Families

Thank you for being part of the IHL (2004) Homestay programme. This booklet has been designed to offer to hosts of our overseas students some suggested guidelines based on our experiences. We ask you to keep these in mind when setting out your family rules or arrangements. Experience has taught us that it is helpful if students know that some rules apply to everyone.

We believe that becoming part of a family is probably the best way to learn about New Zealand’s language and culture. Home stay provides home comforts and the warmth and security of family life. There are also lots of opportunities for our students to practice English out of school with real people in real situations. After all, conversational English is simply the best way to learn.

We also believe that hosting overseas students can enrich the lives of host families through an understanding of other cultures. Our hosts play a critical role in ensuring our students enjoy a safe, happy and comfortable stay in New Zealand and this of course influences their performance in their studies.


Hot Water

We are sure you will enjoy hosting our students!



What does it take to be a good Homestay host? A beautiful home with lots of new gadgets? A swimming pool? A house in an exclusive suburb? All of these are nice and would be appreciated by our students, but, and it’s a big BUT, the most important consideration for us is the people! Possessions can make life comfortable but a home is all about people and how they relate to one another.

We wont to ensure that all our Homestays do provide clean, warm and comfortable facilities. More importantly we will be looking for that special factor – caring, honest, friendly and committed people who want to share their home with guests from another country and culture.

As a host you will play many roles; parent, friend, confidante, companion. You will need a sense of humour, tolerance, understanding, patience, flexibility and a real interest in the well being of others. If it sounds a tall order – it is!

We hope you will enjoy acting as host to our students. We are always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help with any difficulties that may occur. Please remember – what may seem a small problem to us may be a huge problem for the student.



Setting ground rules is very important. Your house rules as regards smoking, alcohol, meal hours, shared chores etc is very important. We have very few students under the age of 18. Most of our students are mature, young adults and are entitled to be treated as such, taking responsibility for their actions. However, with students under 18 years the school, IHL (2004) and the host have a definite responsibility of care under NZ law and we suggest curfew times be set. This should be done in consultation with us. A set of basic house rules can be found HERE


Experience has shown us that use of the telephone – and the resultant bills, can be a source of irritation and conflict. Hosts are strongly advised to set clear rules for the use of the phone. Students away from home will want to make calls home. As a host you will need to set out clear guidelines for use of a telephone. However, IHL (2004), nor the institute the student is attending cannot be held responsible for telephone charges incurred by the student.

We advise a toll bar be installed which Telecom will do for a small monthly charge. Short-term students are asked to make collect calls or to purchase a telephone calling card.



Ahhhh - The internet - this can sometimes be a cause for lots of consternation.

Most students expect the internet to be provided but is not a host requirement to provide this service. Some of you have plans in place so the students are able to access the internet.

Some families do not mind students using the internet in the home - provided it is used sensibly and not for downloading music or videos.

Many of the students will arrive with their own laptops/notebooks. If you are wireless in your home, some students will want to "tap" into that.

It is quite acceptable for host families, if they wish / allow their students to use the "family" internet, to charge a fee of $20.00 - $30.00 per month. If this is the case, please make this known to the student and when they do pay, please issue some form of receipt.

Here are some links that will take you to some basic guidelines you can show the student regarding the internet; or Here.

In todays advanced technical age, there are many options which the student has to them in order to have "autonomy" on the internet.

These links may assist you.




BROADBAND Providers - a range of options, or

More Providers

One thing that continually comes up is the amount of time a student spends on the internet. This can cause a number of problems, not least of all, a "blown out" internet bill. You will need to discuss with your student the various options and also what is an allowable time to spend on the internet.

Another problem is if the student has his/her own laptop, they will sometimes lock themselves away in their room for long periods of time. You will need to explain that this can be considered impolite and you may need to "coax" them out to enjoy "family time"

It must be pointed out that International Homestays(2004) Ltd, nor the institution the student is attending, are liable or responsible for any internet bills incurred by the student.



Strangely enough the use of hot water seems to cause a few upsets. Asian students are conditioned to staying under a shower for what New Zealanders regard as a long time. At home they are used to instant hot water systems, so it may take some time for your student to understand that our off-peak immersion water systems cannot deliver the same continuous supplies! A simple explanation and demonstration should suffice.


International students must have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance while studying in New Zealand.

If a student becomes ill or requires dental treatment we suggest the student use the host families own practitioners. For simple illness you may be able to give a non-prescription medication. Hosts should provide suitable food and care during these periods. If your student is absent from school through illness you will need to contact the students school by telephone before 9am.


Hopefully, no such events will occur. However, it is always best to be prepared. Your student should be instructed on how to act in case of fire or earthquake. Make your student aware of the emergency number for fire, police and ambulance.



IHL (2004) will enter into a contract with the Homestay host to provide services for our students. The following details outline what we believe would be the minimum expected of you:

· To provide a separate room for each student containing:
-Desk Light
-Table & Chair
-Adequate Heating & Ventilation -Adequate Bedding

· To provide fresh linen and towels on a weekly basis.

· To provide the student with morning and evening meals from Monday to Friday, and all meals on weekends and public holidays.

· To accompany the student to and from their school on their first day of classes.

· To provide meals in accordance with the student’s dietary and religious needs.

· To launder the students clothes.

· To provide a key for free access to the home for the student.

· To respect and make provision for the student’s religious observances.

· To encourage the student to join in with family and non-family recreational activities, as this will help them develop wider social relationships.

· To negotiate and enforce house rules

· To explain the household chores (if any) that are expected of the students.

· To involve the student in family discussions, and to encourage use of the English language.

· To help the student understand New Zealand history, customs and cultures, and to make the student aware of socially and culturally acceptable behaviour.

· To respect the student’s right to privacy.

· To help the student cope with problems of loneliness and /or culture shock.

· To notify IHL (2004) immediately in case of illness or accident.

· To notify IHL (2004) if the family is to be away at any time so that alternative arrangements can be made for the student.

· To be aware of the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International students.

You may view this by clicking HERE



We encourage our students to join in their host families’ activities such as watching TV, playing games, chatting, walking, helping with chores and going out together on holidays or at weekends.

Many activities do not need to cost a lot of money, if any. Some students will be quite affluent and some with limited spare cash. We do not expect host families to pay for their guests’ entertainment. If a shared activity is planned then the student should pay his/her share. You may wish to offer an occasional “treat” or “shout” but should make clear to the student that this is exactly what it is. That is, on other occasions you expect the students to pay their own way.


These tips may help during the initial stages of hosting a student.

In the first few weeks’ students would appreciate being shown round Auckland so that they can gain confidence to go out on their own.

Most students are here to learn English and welcome opportunities to practise. Some hosts lead very busy lifestyles and need to remember that Homestay is more than just providing accommodation – it is a family environment where the student is encouraged to join in activities and conversation.

It takes time to adapt to a new culture and hosts should establish differences between NZ and the home country through conversation

Cultural differences need to be understood. Kiwis are much more direct in speech. Asians are reluctant to disagree or to criticise. A nod does
not mean agreement; it means ‘I understand’. Many new students will not take the initiative in discussions – they need encouragement to do this.

Host should enquire about food tastes and perhaps encourage the students to occasionally cook for self and family.

Many students find NZ homes cold, especially in the winter months. Apartment blocks overseas are generally centrally heated with every room being warmed. Cold bedrooms are hard to adjust to.

Asians generally have very firm beds.

Students do need a private place in the evening for study. They cannot be expected to work in a lounge with the rest of the household watching TV.

If hosts set limits on length of showers, they should explain why and show the water heating system. Most Asian homes have instant water heating.

Lunches: Asians are used to a greater quantity and variety for lunch; hosts should ask students for suggestions.

Weekend meals: if hosts say ‘ Help yourself, we don’t go to any trouble atweekends” students are sometimes too shy to do it and need encouragement at first.

Some dishwashing styles are upsetting to students – e.g. no rinsing off of detergent or washing pets’ dishes with the family’s.



Most people who experience life in a foreign country also experience decided differences in foods, eating habits and behaviours. Some of our students will take time to adjust and will need you to help. Some tips might help you:

A reasonably substantial breakfast should be provided –cereal, toast, juice, tea or coffee.
The main meal of the day will be the evening meal and should be a family meal where the student is encouraged to speak English and join in family conversation. (You may have to explain that the Kiwi TEA means dinner, not a cup of tea!).
At weekends many families ‘make-do’ for lunches. Our students will have to have explained to them that they are allowed to help themselves.

House rules for do-it-yourself snacks will also have to be covered.

Asians do not generally favour red meats, mutton, lamb or fatty foods. Their diet consists of lots of fresh vegetables, fish, chicken and white meats. Frequent servings of rice or noodles are sure to be appreciated. Serve drinks with the meal - water, juice or tea. Students will prefer to serve themselves from dishes placed on the table. If you serve them everything on the plate they will feel obliged to eat it, even if they do not find it to their liking.

Be aware of the differences, but we do expect our students to adapt and adopt.


When prospective hosts contact IHL(2004) we ask them to fill out a simple on-line questionnaire. On receipt of this application an IHL (2004) representative will arrange a visit to your home to assess its suitability and to meet the prospective host family. The potential hosts will then be shown and explained a Homestay contract; procedures and policies. This lists the responsibilities of the host family.

All persons residing in the home over the age of 18 will be required to be Police Vetted. Our coordinator will have those forms with her.

If the application is successful it is placed on file.

IHL (2004) is provided with a profile of the student, which provides information of the students needs, requirements and any special requirements he or she may have. On receipt of this we match the student’s requirements against our pool of available hosts. An IHL (2004) Co-ordinator will then telephone to ask if you are able to host a student. If you are, a letter is also sent to the student giving details of the host family. If you haven’t hosted a student for at least three months, an IHL (2004) co-ordinator may schedule an appointment to re-visit your home.

You will be expected to meet the student on arrival at your home. The student will be met and uplifted at the airport and safely transported to your home. In some instances the student may wish to make their own way to your house but you will be informed of this. Aeroport Shuttle Service helps out in this exercise. It sometimes happens that a student fails to arrive or cancels at the last moment. The school or IHL (2004) cannot accept any liability for such happenings beyond its control.

Where Homestay proves unsuitable then IHL (2004) also reserves the right to terminate the booking and transfer the student to another host family.

All board payments will be paid to you by IHL (2004) two weeks in advance. This will be done by internet banking into your bank account. Either party may terminate the contract at one week’s notice.



THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT - As part of your contract with the IHL (2004) you are required to bring the student to school by bus on the first day and collect him/her after the first day’s study and return home by bus. After this the student will be expected to travel on his/her own. You will need to assist your student with things such as details of concession tickets and transfers.

Students may elect to buy a bicycle, and if so should be made aware of the safety requirements and road rules. Some mature students holding international driving licences may choose to buy a car.


In order to enrol, international students must have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance while studying in New Zealand. This is a legal requirement under the NZ Ministry of Education Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. For the purpose of insurance, the definition of an ‘international student' is any student who does NOT have New Zealand citizenship, or any student who is NOT a resident of New Zealand (i.e., does not have a valid Residency Permit issued by New Zealand Immigration in their passport).


All queries or problems regarding Homestay should be directed to International Homestay (2004) Limited (IHL(2004):

Gary or Lisa Helmling
Phone: (09) 418 5389
Fax: (09) 418 5392
Phone: (0275) 482 127 (all hours)
E-mail us here