Host Families needed for International student programme at Mercury Bay Area School
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Host Families needed for International student programme at Mercury Bay Area School

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Teacher and students

Have you thought about hosting an international student? Mercury Bay Area School is seeking local families to participate as hosts in its popular international student programme. 

The school is looking for local families to host students for both short and longer term stays. Students are aged between 14 - 17 years, and usually from Europe. Staying here for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months, depending on what their goals are in studying in Whitianga.

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Why host an international student?

If you love to learn about other countries, why not bring the cultural experience right into your own home? Hosting an international student is a fantastic way for you and your family to learn about the world without leaving home!

Your family gets the benefit of learning:

  • about a different culture
  • a new language if you wish
  • and experiencing how others live. 

Welcoming a student into your home is not only enriching the student’s life but your family’s also. Hosting a student offers the opportunity to build more skills to connect, communicate and collaborate with others. 

Lifelong friendships are often developed between students and host families. It’s not uncommon for families to travel to a student's home country and visit, experience their culture and meet their families in later years. Welcoming a student into your home can open the door to a new world of friendships and opportunities. And, imagine if your child was thousands of kilometres from home, you’d want them to be in good hands!

International students at Mercury Bay Area School doing a range of activities

By hosting a student, you give them a unique experience of living in New Zealand as part of a safe and caring family, leaving them with a positive impression of our corner of the world. 

Hosting a student can give you a new view on life. Things we take for granted can take on a new view when seen from another’s perspective. Enjoy how these new eyes can bring some new energy and excitement to your daily life. 

Families with only children or whose older siblings may have left home can enjoy the new company of an international student and international perspectives to home and family life.

Hosting a student in Whitianga

The students are fluent in English and learn "Kiwi- English" really quickly. To support our in school programme we need Homestay carers and families (of all ages) who will host a student during their stay in Whitianga. We welcome enquiries for these all year round. Host families receive a weekly allowance for hosting our international students. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, please contact us.

Ross Dunn -  Principal Mercury Bay Area School

The school’s program does offer financial compensation for hosting students. The motivation for hosting a student should always be to provide a warm, welcoming home and experience for the student. However it is not unreasonable to enjoy the financial assistance that is offered to families hosting students.

Welcoming a student into your home is not only enriching the student’s life but your family’s also.

Why do Students come to Whitianga?

Students from Europe and Asia often come to New Zealand to gain qualifications that are not easily accessible in their own country. Gaining qualifications in an English speaking country can greatly increase future employment opportunities for them.

New Zealand is also chosen as an opportunity for the cultural experience of living and studying in a country other than their own. Many students return to their own countries to continue their studies after their time away.  Some will move on to a New Zealand tertiary institution or move to another English-speaking country such as Australia or the U.S.A. to attend university.

New Zealand and Whitianga have a reputation for being “clean and green” with a relatively safe environment for teens and a well-regarded standard of education.

European students usually will come for six months to a year. Many will be upgrading their English skills, but they also come here to experience the Mercury Bay Area School’s outdoor education, photography, marine academy and plane build programmes.

View from a past host family

Host parent, Rose has hosted five students from both Europe and Asia. She says that the whole family enjoyed the experience and being able to connect and learn about different cultures and perspectives. 

One particular student has become a permanent and extended member of our family and still shares her successes with us many years on. This has been an absolute privilege. It was a joy to share our beautiful coastal landscape with fresh eyes each time a new student arrived on our doorstep. Hosting helped us to feel connected as global citizens. 

Rose Mahon – Host Parent, Whitianga.

Rose explains, that it was important to keep their minds open and to try to understand that each student has come from a different set of values and expectations. Communication and clear guidelines helped at the start to ensure the household ran efficiently.  She found them inspiring and accepting young people who brought a wonderful sense of energy into family life.

Find out more about being a host family

If you’d like to find out more details about being a host family for a student. Please download the handbook below,  contact the school via email or phone 07 866 5906.


Images – Thanks to Mercury Bay Area School.


  • File Description
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  • Mercury Bay Area School Residential Handbook November 2023
    451 KB

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Mercury Bay Area School

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