Arresting at customs is an extreme measure

Friday, 22 January 2016, 1:41 pm
Press Release: VUWSA

The recent arrest of Ngatokotoru Puna released by Stuff has been marked as an extreme measure according to Victoria University of Wellington Student’s Association (VUWSA).

VUWSA’s President, Jonathan Gee says, ‘Arresting people at the border seems like an extreme, movie-like measure, especially when much higher offenders often get a slap on the wrist for much worse crimes.

We don’t condone the fact that Puna didn’t repay his student loan, but the Government should be looking at ways to better support students.’

At the end of February 2016 New Zealand’s student debt will reach $15billion.

‘Rather than using combative tactics to decrease the national student loan debt, the Government needs to look for ways to decrease overall student loan debt, so students don’t find themselves in situations like Puna where they’re completely unable to pay their student debt back,’ advises Gee.

In 2014 NZ legislation changed allowing arrest warrants to be issued for overseas-based borrowers who persistently default on repayments and are caught trying to leave New Zealand after visiting home. According to the IRD, they are looking for 20 more people who have also massively defaulted on their student loans.

They could very well find themselves in situations similar to Puna if they return to New Zealand, and then leave.