As I posted above, I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy either. Just googled this guy and he is claiming that he never heard from the IRD and they sent all the mail to the wrong address. Even if that is true, so what? He knew the rules when he borrowed the money, did he really think he could simply ignore his fiscal/legal obligations forever? Rhetorical questions … not getting in touch with the IRD for 20 years (20 years!) is on him. The IRD really do work with people on sorting out these issues, arranging payment plans, etc.
I have total sympathy for those who genuinely don’t have the money, but let’s be honest, most of the NZers who are living overseas and shirking their loans COULD be making payments.
Somewhat related, I am really worried that National are going to continue to chip away at our higher education in NZ. Education here may be expensive (at least compared to most of Europe … perhaps less expensive than much of North America), but our student loan scheme is pretty sensible and user-friendly — just pay it back automatically as a tax! The student loan scheme(s) in the US seem outrageous.