The last mile and backhaul in the country is a lot more congested than many will like to admit. Even with the low 32bkps backhaul per user limits there are areas where congestion is a problem/becomming a problem with all the extra cabinets being installed. Simply removing this limit or raising these dsl backhaul per user limits will cause all manner of pain for everyone if the network is not robust enough to handle the ever increasing amounts of data being consumed. Every DSL user only needs to use 10GB per month on average to completly saturate their ISPs DSL backhaul.
If that's the case, it's some serious overlooking somewhere or simply putting the resources in a wrong place. NZ must have decent national fiber networks in place and it's just a matter of $ millions to make sure that there is right kind of hardware in place to remove all the bottlenecks between the international capacity and the DSL local loop.
At least over here we have never seen much money of effort spent on maintaining the old copper networks (24 awg mostly). They exists and they do their job, if a pair is bad they try the next one. A new residential area will get both copper and fiber installed. Some people may get just 5-10 Mbit/s on longer copper, some get closer to 20 Mbit/s with their ADSL2+. However as the regulator is there to regulate the price of this formerly monopoly resource, the incumbent telco's frequently say that is expensive to maintain the copper network -- without any proof, of course -- just a few months ago they ordered a 20% drop in the price.
I like the concept of cabinetisation in NZ -- to bring the fiber backbone closer to the people but leaving out the most expensive part, the fiber local loops. It gives the future option to build fiber local loops neighbourhood by neighbourhood, perhaps with local efforts to make it happen. However this 5-year plan to implement the cabinetisation should not stop the development to make sure that the national core(s) have enough capacity (which shouldn't have happened in the first place) and that the international bottleneck will get solved.
I don't understand the 32 kbit/s per user limit. That sounds ridiculous?