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April 4, 2011 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Callaghan Recruits Heroes for his Own Student Army

Inland Revenue has issued a reminder to more than 60,000 New Zealand graduates living overseas that repayments are due for their student loans.

The final due date for the compulsory repayments is 31 March 2011, with 25,000 borrowers who are about to come off their three-year repayment holiday included in the reminder. The graduates are being warned by IRD spokesman Charles Ronaldson that “penalties will see their loan grow quickly” if they fail to make their repayment obligations.
Since the IRD’s announcement, New Zealander of the Year Professor Sir Paul Callaghan has made an appeal to the 85,000 graduates abroad with outstanding student loans.
Callaghan has set up project HEKE (Heroic Educated Kiwi Expatriates), appealing to the 35,000 graduates who are behind on their repayments to pay off their student loans to help benefit the Christchurch earthquake recovery mission.

Speaking to TVOne’s Breakfast programme, Callaghan advised that he had personally emailed 4000 Victoria University alumni abroad regarding the appeal. He urged the graduates to seize this “sense of opportunity” to help out their fellow New Zealanders from a distance. In paying off their student loans and helping to rebuild Christchurch, Callaghan asserts that graduates “will become the stuff of legend”. Callaghan stressed that it is a “humble appeal” to the graduates, whose combined debt totals over $2 billion.

“That represents nearly 30% of the $7 billion that New Zealand taxpayers will have to contribute through the Government’s contribution to the rebuilding… If we were to get everyone to contribute even a little, then the effect would be hugely helpful.”

Callaghan reasons that making repayments is also in the graduates’ best financial interests, as graduates living overseas do not qualify for the interest-free student loan scheme.
“By reducing their student debts these heroes and heroines help New Zealand rebuild Christchurch. They also remove a barrier which prevents them returning to live and work in their homeland. We, their families, must welcome that.”

Callaghan compares his appeal with the achievements of the volunteer student army in Christchurch, stating that the young kiwis’ efforts have “probably transformed the lives of some of those young people”.

A website has been set-up for the cause, HEKE is also spreading the word through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook,


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  1. Dale Louise says:

    There’s probably been no response to this here because everyone is using the Heke site on Facebook. Lots of good points-of-view there.
    I support Paul Callaghan’s cause full heartedly, but I don’t look at these expats as being heroes or heroines if they decide to pay their loans.
    In my opinion they should feel obligated to do something about this. I have heard many stories where there are expats doing extremely well overseas and scoff at the idea of ever paying their loan back. Shame of them! A debt is a debt and should be paid. End of rant!

  2. Rex Hydro says:

    I was not one of the 4000 Victoria University alumni that Sir Callaghan emailed. I was, however, one of the 67 Victoria University dropouts that he mistakenly emailed when he fucked up his mail merge the first time.

    Unfortunately for him the email also contained copy and pasted sections from an advert for penis enlargement pills. Unfortunately for me the pills don’t fucking work.

    Either way my spam filter failed to protect me from Callaghan’s ravages.

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