The Education (Hostels) Regulations 2005: Guidelines

All hostels that fit the definition of ‘hostel’ in the Education and Training Act and the regulations, and their owners, must comply with the regulations.

The definition covers a wide range of boarding establishments – for example:

  • residential specialist schools
  • health camps
  • hostels operated by state and state integrated schools,
  • private hostels serving groups of international students attending registered schools.

It does not, however, cover private boarding where a homeowner provides accommodation to less than five students. Nor does it cover boarding when students attending a registered school are not the main group of people being accommodated.

These guidelines provide further explanation and should be read in association with the regulations. The headings correlate to the relevant parts and requirements of the regulations to make it easy to read the two together.


The Education (Hostels) Regulations 2005 (‘the regulations’) came into force on 1 March 2006. The regulations, under the Education and Training Act 2020, are intended to help ensure the safety of students boarding in hostels. They were developed as a result of consultation with key stakeholders and representative organisations.

  • Why are the regulations needed?
    • While most hostels are well run and provide safe physical and emotional environments for students, serious safety concerns have been identified in some hostels. During the development of the regulations consideration was given to issues of student safety in hostels that have been raised over a number of years in reports by the Commissioner for Children, the Education Review Office (ERO) and others. Issues raised include bullying, sexual abuse, harassment, physical assault and the related failings of hostel management.

      The regulations particularly help to address gaps in other legislation¹ in terms of:

      • consistent, appropriate, and well-understood pastoral care standards and procedures for domestic students in increasingly diverse hostel environments. The safety of international student boarders is already addressed through the administration of the Tertiary and International Learners Code of Practice established under section 238F of the Education Act.
      • enforcement mechanisms that enable direct intervention where serious safety concerns are identified. Prior to the regulations the government, which also has an interest as a contributor of funding for hostel services (for example, through boarding bursaries), had no ability to intervene decisively to prevent or resolve safety concerns.

      Reporting regimes (including ERO reviews) and other information initiatives can encourage and inform good practice. These options, however, are not adequate where the risks of harm (particularly emotional harm) to boarders are unacceptable and hostel operators are not willing or able to address them. Not preventing or resolving unsafe situations in hostels will interfere with students’ abilities to learn and achieve. In extreme circumstances it could lead to serious harm. Consultation informing the development of the regulations emphasised the necessity to ensure compliance with minimum standards and for a relatively broad interpretation of the term ‘safe’.


      ¹ See Appendix A for a summary of some other relevant legislation.

      ² For further information about the Code, visit the NZQA website(external link) or contact NZQA on 0800 697 296 or   

  • Acknowledgements
    • These guidelines have been developed with substantial input from the Ministry’s hostel sector advisory group. The Ministry is very grateful for the time and expertise contributed by the individuals and organisations involved.

      Sector representatives included hostel managers, school principals, parents/trustees and others, some of whom were nominated by:

      • Association of Proprietors of Integrated Schools
      • Association of Integrated Schools
      • Independent Schools’ Council
      • New Zealand Boarding Schools’ Association
      • New Zealand School Trustees’ Association
      • Office of the Commissioner for Children
      • Paerangi Limited (Maori boarding schools)
      • Special Residential Schools