"Mr Fraher said he contacted the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) when he first left NZ in 2000 with a student loan of about $70,000. The requirement for him was to pay 15 per cent of the principal and all of the interest in a year, he said - about $15,000, though Mr Fraher recalled the amount was $23,000. The income from his first job would not have covered it, even if he had lived homeless and ate at soup kitchens, he said. Mr Fraher said IRD at the time would not consider any other payment plan despite the circumstances"
Was this a requirement at the time and has it changed? From this it looks like the herald assessed this at 15K and Fraher's recollection was 23K. Even at the lower level he was still looking at a minimum payment of NZ$300 per week overseas without earning anything. Is the article actually correct in this?
His penalties date from when he could not pay it and that is the pivot of the whole thing.