life in the boarding house

The Boarder's Guide

Everything you need to know about what life is like at hostel

Boarding is like most good things in life – you get out what you put in, so right from the start the boarders, Hostel manager, Matron and House parents here have one message for you: “Get Amongst It!”  There’s so much for you to love about living at Poto College House as a boarder. Keep reading – we’re going to start with the cool stuff and work our way through to the details. 

Living At School

How does that work?

You may be pumped about coming to board at Poto College House, or you could be a bit uncertain – either way, expect a bit of up and down to begin with. It’s different from home, that’s for sure, but it’s also awesome in ways that home isn’t. You’ll have your mates with you pretty much 24/7. You’ll have other students, tutors and staff there with you to help with homework, assignments and studying. All of your life-admin is sorted with staff who will run you to and from practices and activities after school or sport on the weekends. There’s always heaps of good food at meal times and stuff you might not have at home, like a gym, common room, computer and music rooms, the swimming pool, cricket ground and heaps more. 

 An Average Day

What does it look like?

Everyone gets up to have breakfast together at 7am. After breakfast you head back to your room to get sorted for the day and then you’ll head across the oval to school. You have a typical school day with a morning tea break and lunch is provided in the dining hall. After school, everyone heads back to the boarding house. Most students have sport or music practices a few afternoons a week, but if not you usually have free time until dinner. Dinner is at 5.45pm in the dining hall, sometimes it’s pie, sometimes it’s spaghetti or a roast, and most nights there is dessert. After dinner everyone does homework, or ‘prep’ as we call it so you can complete internals and assignments. After prep you have time to hang out with your mates before bedtime which depends on your year group. Everyone is allowed to read for 15 minutes after bedtime, before lights out. So there you have an average school day at Poto College House.


The hostel shuts and we all go home.

All students go home on Friday evening or Saturday morning after sport, and then come back to school on Sunday evening or Monday morning before school. If you want to take a bus or train home, you will need to have this booked before Friday along with booking a hostel van ride to be dropped at the station or depot. You will need to book the hostel van to pick you up on your return on Sunday night too. Some students who might have come from overseas get the chance to stay with a hostel family for the weekend and experience real Kiwi life. A few times a year we have a ‘compulsory in’ which means everyone stays in for the Friday night, we have fun activities like assault courses, slip and slides, raft building and more so we can all bond and spend time together as a family. Our Haka competition is held on a Friday night followed by a family barbecue and it is expected that all students and their families attend. This is a great way for families / whanau to meet each other and build friendships along with their children.

Important people

There are a few different people at Poto College House who are there to look after you and make sure your experience is a happy one. You can read about them all below and get to know who will be part of your home away from home. 

Hostel Manager

Stacey Grant is our hostel Manager and he is the main person in charge of how the hostel is run and makes sure you have everything you need. He is also there to enforce the rules and make sure everyone feels happy and safe in their home away from home. Stacey is supported by his wife, Gretchen, and their two boys. They all live on site in the Manager’s house


Sharon Haeata is our hostel Matron and she is your first port of call for any of your day to day needs. She is the one who makes sure lights are out and who you can go to if you have any problems. She has been at Poto College House for a long time so she knows everything there is to know about how the hostel works and how to make the most of it.

Hostel Parents

We also have several couples who also live on site like the Manager and the Matron. They are there to help keep an eye on everything, run you to your after school activities as well as being rostered on duty each week. Our hostel parents are experienced with teenagers and boarding schools and support the hostel in creating a family environment for all boarders.


Your questions

 Boarding FAQs

There are lots of things you might be wondering about, below are some of the most frequently asked questions. If you can’t find the answer there you can always call us, email us or send a message on Facebook.

What is the food like?

There are three meals a day and there’s a tuck-shop at the school that’s open at morning tea and lunch. At breakfast you’ll have toast, cereals and fruit to choose from. Lunch will always have a hot option. Dinner could be a roast, lasagne, curry, homemade pie or lots of other things. There’s a good variety and there are always options so you’ll never be hungry even if you don’t like the main meal being served. If you’re a vegetarian there’s always a meat-free option and we will also cater for any allergies.

Who does my washing?

Sheets, towels, sports gear and uniforms are washed by the school laundry most week days except on the last Friday of term.

What happens after school?

There will be sports, cultural and other practices on Monday to Thursday and some boarders do other activities. If your time is free you can go swimming, play sport, complete assignments, or just hang out with your mates until tea time at 5.45pm. Once a week you are allowed to go on town leave from 3.10 – 5.00pm.

When can I see my family?

Your parents can visit school in the afternoons and you will go home or out with them during the weekends. 

What if I'm finding it hard to settle in?

It’s always a great idea to talk to a friend at school if you’re finding settling in tricky or need some help figuring things out. Everyone at the boarding house is in the same situation as you so they are in a great position to support you because they’re there, standing right beside you on the boarding journey. It’s also a good idea to chat to an adult at the hostel you are comfortable with like the Hostel Manager or the Matron or a hostel parent if the issue is serious or goes on for more than a day or two.

You should always feel free to call friends and family outside of school too, because keeping up good communication is really important in close relationships. The school counsellor is always available for one-on-one chats to help you figure things out, too.

In general, if you’re feeling a bit lonely or sad, try your best to get involved with stuff that’s going on at school, make an effort to be a part of activities and events and put yourself out there. It’s talking with your mates and being a part of the school family that will make your boarding experience everything you want it to be. Finding common ground with other boarders is a really helpful thing to do and that usually happens through getting involved in activities whether they are organised by the hostel staff or a kick around on the oval after school.

What time do I get up?

From Monday to Friday it’s a 7.15 am wake-up, but on Saturday it depends on what time your sports game is or your pick up.

Do I have to wear my school uniform all the time?

No, after school you can change into mufti, unless you are granted town leave. All boarders go into town after school in uniform. When you arrive at Poto College House on Sunday evening or Monday morning you must be dressed in your full uniform whether you are travelling on public transport or privately in a car.


What happens if I'm sick?

If you feel sick then let the Matron or Hostel Manager know. We’ll always have panadol available, and if you need to go and lie down in your room you can as long as you get the Hostel Manager’s or Matron’s permission first. If you need to see a doctor we’ll take you to one, and if you’re really unwell we’ll call your parents and you may decide to go home to get better.

Can I just board for a night or two?

Yes! We offer casual boarding to day students who need to board temporarily. This can be done for up to 100 nights per year. 

What should I bring with me?

There are some things you will need to bring to make sure you’re ready for everything the school day brings. You’ll need:

– Your uniform with name tags on  all the items (including smalls).

– School supplies from the list given to you by school. 

– Toiletries like shower gel, hair products, toothbrush and toothpaste and deodorant. Note that you can’t bring aerosol sprays like Rexona or Lynx because they set off the fire alarms. 

– Mufti clothes for hanging out in, togs, PJs and sports gear plus at least one smart outfit for out of school hours. Clothes of a reasonable length must be worn to dinner. Anything too short isn’t appropriate and you will be asked to change.

– Towels and face cloths and your own bedding if you would prefer it otherwise we supply mattress protectors and sheets. 

– Sewing kit

– Shoe polish. 

– Coat hangers. 

– Photos, pictures, cushions and any other accessories that you want to have in your cube to make it feel like home. 


Some ground rules

 What We Expect From You

Rules are there for a reason and that’s always to keep you safe. Most of these will be pretty much the same as at home so there shouldn’t be any big surprises. 

Cellphones must be turned off during prep time, can’t be used after lights out.

Junior students’ cellphones will be collected at 8.30 and can be collected in the morning from the hostel office.

If you break the rules regarding cellphones expect your phone to be confiscated for a few days.

To use the computer suite, computers must be booked in the hostel office by 5 pm the day of use or earlier. Boarders can bring their own laptops and use these in the study nook. 

Senior students are permitted to use their computers for school work in their annexes during prep time.

Juniors hand their devices, including laptops, into management at 8.30 (year 9) and 8.45 (year 10) each evening.

All boarders will be required to do duties. The Hostel Manager will devise the duty list and will communicate this to the boarders. At home we are all asked to do chores to help the family unit function and at Poto College House we hold on to the same values.

Hopefully we don’t have to convince you to take a shower every day, but if we do, here’s why; hygiene doesn’t just affect you, it affects the people around you, and we don’t want you, or others to feel awkward about it. Daily showers and a clean uniform are expectations that must be adhered to when living in a hostel family environment.

All boarders are expected to keep their dorm space clean and tidy, clothes either folded in drawers or hung up in the wardrobe. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your parents might have said is cool – you can’t leave school without permission from the Hostel Manager or Matron and their specific knowledge of where you are going, who you’re going with, and when you’ll be back.

It might be a little more relaxed at home for you, but your parents aren’t trying to keep track of over 60 students. The main reason we need to know where you are at all times is so that we know you are safe and can contact us if you need us. 

It’s pretty simple – be kind and treat others with respect. If you have an issue with someone, try talking to them about it calmly and politely first. We know it can be hard to confront people sometimes, but be kind when you do it and most of the time things will be solved easily.

Explain what it is they’re doing or saying that you don’t like, how it makes you feel and what you’d like them to do. If you can’t resolve it, or don’t feel comfortable talking to them you can see an older student, the Hostel Manager, Matron or Hostel Parents. 

And Finally, Some Advice…

This is what some of our current and past students have to say about life in the boarding house. 

While there is a TV in the common room you may still like to bring movies of your own, so download your favourites to watch when you’re allowed to.

Senior students are there to help. They may look big and scary but they’re not – they remember what it was like to be new too. Poto College House has a real family feel so always feel confident about asking if you’re not sure of something. 

It’s a much better idea to accept and follow the rules. Sometimes they seem silly but they are there to keep everyone safe. Most boarders we know who have tried have been found out and it’s just not worth it.

Get involved in as much as you can. It’s all fun and more often than not everyone is out doing stuff any way.  You only get out what you put in!




After School programs


Years Established

Get In Touch

Location: Renall Street, Masterton

Telephone: 06 370 0415 or 027 285 2320