Information for homestay families

Information and forms for current and prospective homestay families

This section is for homestay families. If you are a student, click here to read about living with a homestay.

News for current homestay families

Are you hosting one of our teen students next academic year and are they doing our English Plus Activities programme?

Download the English Plus Activities for July / August schedule here.

Download the English Plus Activities for January 2021 schedule here.


  • The activity buses usually arrive back at Unique between 4:30 and 5pm
  • The first 3 weeks in July are very busy and the order of the activities might change each week for some students.
  • This is because some activity providers can only host a certain number of students each day. Please check with your students or student services ( at the beginning of each week.

Frequently asked questions

Who should I talk to if I have a problem or emergency with a student?

Our homestay coordinators are experienced homestay parents themselves. They have lots of useful advice and can answer any questions or discuss any issues you may have.

If you have a problem please email ( or call (09 478 0620).

If there is a serious emergency, our homestay coordinators can be reached after hours on 021 246 3835 ( Amanda).

Classes and activities

What time do classes start and finish?

Morning class starts at 0900 and finishes at 1200.

Afternoon class starts at 1300 and finishes at 1500.

The vast majority of homestay students study morning and afternoon classes.

What time do activities finish?

Activities finish at different times, depending on the location and duration of the activity.

Typically, students will return to Unique between 1630 and 1700.

For a more precise time, check the activity schedule linked at the top of this page.


How much will I be paid for hosting a student?

Payments depends on the age of the student, with younger students paying more due to the added responsibility.

We pay our homestay families the same amount that we charge our students per week.

Check student accommodation costs here.

When will I be paid?

We make our regular payments every second Thursday, and pay two weeks in advance.

For new arrivals, however, we wait a few days until the student has settled before paying the homestays family in arrears, and in advance until the next regular payment date.

Typically, this means that if your student arrives on a Saturday, you will not receive payment until Monday or Tuesday. If the student chooses to stay with you, the payment will be for the nights the student has stayed, plus however many nights in advance until the next regular payment. If the student chooses not to stay, the payment will only be for the number of nights the student has stayed, and as many nights in advance until they are able to leave.

How will I be paid?

We pay via bank transfer.

If you have changed your banking details, or think they may be incorrect, email us as soon as possible (

What can I do if my payment is incorrect?

If you think your payment is incorrect, email us as soon as possible (

Can I have a record of my payments?

With each payment, you should receive an email containing a receipt.

If you haven’t, or require additional information, email us (

Arrivals and departures

When will my student arrive/leave?

Student arrival and departure times vary.

Several weeks prior to your student’s arrival or departure, you should receive an email detailing their airport transfer.

If not, please email us as soon as possible (

When will I receive a confirmation letter?

We send confirmation letters once we have all of a student’s details.

Typically, this is at least a few weeks before the student’s arrival.

If you think you should have received a confirmation letter, please email us as soon as possible (

Pastoral care

What is expected of me as a homestay?

Being a homestay means welcoming the student into your home and treating them as one of your family.

Their room should have a bed, chest of drawers, wardrobe, desk and chair (for studying).

It is expected that you will provide them three meals a day and a normal amount of snacks.

If you are homestaying a student who is aged under 14 years you will be expected to pick them up and drop them off at school each day.

Students often want to stay in a homestay so that they can have more of an opportunity to improve their English so they will want you to talk to them and include them in family games and activities.

Is my student allowed to go to the city without supervision?

This depends on your student’s age.  Anyone under 16 years is not allowed to go to the city without appropriate adult supervision.  All students aged under 18 years are not permitted to be in the city at night without an appropriate adult.  If you have any concerns regarding this, please contact us (

How can I make my student talk more?

Some students can seem very quiet or shy.  In some cultures it can be very embarrassing to make a mistake so some students will say nothing rather than make a mistake by saying the wrong thing.  This can be overcome by encouraging them and trying your best to understand them, even when they do make some mistakes.

Asking them lots of open ended, but simple questions e.g., “What did you do today?” is better than “Did you have a good day?”. Make sure your questions are simple if your student doesn’t speak a lot of English yet.

Some of our English question structures can be confusing e.g., “You’d like some potatoes, wouldn’t you?” is much more difficult to understand than “Would you like some potatoes?”.

If you get stuck with a word, using Google Translate can help to overcome some language barriers.  Activities like cooking together, or going to the supermarket can also help to break the ice as most people like food.

Other ways to help open up quiet students could include:

  • Sitting down with a map of their country and asking them to show you where they are from.
  • Walks around the neighbourhood and asking how houses etc. in their home country might be different.
  • Any questions about favourite foods, sports etc are usually easy. 

What should I do if my student is sick?

If your student just needs a day’s rest at home, please call the school and let us know they won’t be in.

All International Students must have medical and travel insurance.  Many of them organise it through Unique and, in this case, they can see any doctor, pay and then bring receipts and doctors notes to school and our Student Services staff will help them file an insurance claim.

For any accidents that may occur, International Students are covered by ACC  so any charges are minimal.  If your student suddenly takes ill or has an accident and needs to be taken to North Shore Hospital, please contact the homestay team ( as soon as you can.

If you have any other concerns please call our homestay team (

New homestay families

Our homestay families also get the benefit of meeting people from different cultures and learning about these cultures. At Unique New Zealand we have a variety of students from all different walks of life and so we need a variety of homestay families too.

If you would like to become one of our homestay families you can download the homestay family application pack and police vetting forms. Please note, that if you would like to become a Unique New Zealand homestay family all members of the family must be able to speak English and at least one parent must be a native speaker. Please fill out the forms and then return them to us:

Scan/email to:
Post to PO Box 35-212, Browns Bay, 0753
In person at 41 Clyde Road, Browns Bay

A few points to note before submitting your forms:

  • Every person living in your home (or someone who regularly stays overnight in your home) who is over 18 years of age must submit a police vetting form
  • Being a homestay family should not be relied upon as a constant source of income. Students come for short or long stays and when one leaves we may not be able to place a student with you again immediately.
  • Homestay payment should be considered more of a reimbursement for costs associated with having an additional person in your family rather than an additional source of income.
  • We are generally only able to accept homestay families who are within one bus stage of our school in Browns Bay. This is because students like to be able to easily get to and from school and to meet their friends at weekends and after school.
  • Our peak demand periods for homestay families are: January, February, end of March/April, June, July, August, December