A band of teacher trainees from Malaysia tasted boarding school life in New Zealand during a stay at Rathkeale College and St Matthew's Collegiate School in Masterton.

International student dean Jayne Gasper said the eight teacher trainees, who between them were conversant in multiple languages and Malaysian dialects, had been a delight to host at the Trinity Schools last month.

The group had stayed in Masterton for several days and had also taken the opportunity to explore the region and hone their English language skills, which they plan to share as English language teachers after completing degree studies in the discipline at Victoria University in Wellington.

The Indigenous Peoples Trust Council sponsored the Malaysian students, who had topped competitive exams at home and were bonded for five years in exchange for a scholarship and a weekly allowance for living expenses.


Syeera Zahari said the trainees were close to completing three years of study at the Wellington university and would be teaching English in private boarding schools in Malaysia after returning home.

They are here at St Matt's and Rathkeale to observe the NZ boarding school environment, and have travelled extensively in New Zealand.

The Muslim students had enjoyed a warm welcome and amicable relationships throughout their time in New Zealand, she said, although the adjustment to wet and cold Wellington weather had been difficult, as was at times finding food permitted by their faith, particularly halal meat.

Most of the students have been working part-time in the city, several as house cleaners, and while the men found it easier to "blend in" the women suspect their wearing of a hijab, a veil that covers the head and chest of adult Muslim women, had meant some of their Kiwi counterparts were at times aloof.

Ms Gasper said she was thrilled to host the group "because we're always seeking opportunities for students and staff to learn about other cultures and to make connections with people in the international boarding school fraternity".