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Consumer rights & money

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When you can’t pay your debts: Bankruptcy and other options

Debt repayment orders

What is a debt repayment order?

Insolvency Act 2006, ss 340, 345, 346, 349; Insolvency Act 2006, Part 5, subpart 3

A debt repayment order (formerly known as a summary instalment order) is an order made by the Official Assignee (see “Who is the Official Assignee?). This order allows you to pay back the money you owe (in full, or to the extent that the court considers practicable) in regular instalments over a period of up to three years (or five years in special circumstances) without the threat of further legal action. If you have income or assets, a debt repayment order may be an alternative to bankruptcy.

When a debt repayment order is made, a supervisor is appointed to help you manage the payments due under the order. The supervisor must be a suitable person to supervise your compliance with the terms of the debt repayment order. The supervisor notifies all your known creditors about the debt repayment order.

The Official Assignee can also make orders:

  • about your future earnings or income
  • about the disposal of goods that you own
  • giving the supervisor the power to
    • direct your employer to pay part or all of your earnings to them
    • supervise the payment of your reasonable living expenses of you and your household.

Who can apply for a debt repayment order?

Insolvency Act 2006, s 341

You as a debtor, or a creditor with your agreement, can apply to the Official Assignee for a debt repayment order, setting out the details of the proposed payment plan.

When can a debt repayment order be made?

Insolvency Act 2006, s 343

The Official Assignee can make a debt repayment order if satisfied that:

  • your total unsecured debts are not more than $50,000 (not counting your student loan), and
  • you are unable to repay those debts immediately
  • the order relates only to those debts.

What happens if you fail to make the agreed payments?

Insolvency Act 2006, s 359

The supervisor must notify the Official Assignee. The debt repayment order can be ended and creditors can start, or restart, legal action to recover any outstanding debts. This may lead to your bankruptcy.

What are the advantages of a debt repayment order?

Insolvency Act 2006, s 354

There is no minimum debt requirement for a debt repayment order.

A debt repayment order helps you to manage the payment of your debts.

A debt repayment order is not advertised in newspapers or the New Zealand Gazette (although it is recorded on a public register on the Insolvency and Trustee Service website for the duration of the order, and the supervisor must send notice to known creditors).

What are the disadvantages of a debt repayment order?

Insolvency Act 2006, ss 354, 360

While the debt repayment order is in force and before all your creditors have been paid it is against the law to get credit, borrow or enter into a hire purchaser agreement for more than $1,000 without first informing the credit provider that you are subject to a debt repayment order.

Next Section | A creditor's proposal

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Credit and debt

Where to go for more support

Community Law


Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Consumer Protection


Consumer Protection helpline: 0508 426 678 (0508 4 CONSUMER)

Email: cpinfo@mbie.govt.nz

The Consumer Protection website has useful information on a range of consumer topics. Consumer Protection is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).



Phone: 0800 345 123

Email: help@moneytalks.co.nz

MoneyTalks provides free, confidential budgeting support. They can pair you with a financial mentor to help you if you are struggling with debt or need advice on budgeting.



Phone: 0800 345 123

Email: kiaora@fincap.org.nz

FinCap can help you with budgeting information online or on the phone. They may also suggest a local budgeting service to help you with debt and other budgeting issues.

Consumer NZ


Phone: 0800 266 786

Email: info@consumer.org.nz

The Consumer NZ website provides a wide range of information on consumer credit and debt issues, including debt collectors, repossession and bankruptcy

Commerce Commission


Phone: 0800 943 600
Email: contact@comcom.govt.nz
The Commerce Commission enforces the consumer credit legislation (the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act) and the laws against misleading and deceptive conduct by traders (the Fair Trading Act). The Commission provides information on these areas on its website.

It’s All Good


It’s All Good is an animated series produced by The Commerce Commission about consumer rights.

Citizens Advice


Phone: 0800 FOR CAB (0800 367 222)
Citizens Advice Bureaux have volunteers trained in consumer law who can provide information and advice if you have a problem with credit and debt issues.

Dispute resolution schemes

There are four dispute resolution schemes for consumers dealing with lenders and other credit providers.

  • Financial Services Complaints Limited – www.fscl.org.nz
    0800 347 257
  • Email: info@fscl.org.nz
  • Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman –
    Phone: 0800 888 202
  • Email: info@ifso.nz
  • Banking Ombudsman – www.bankomb.org.nz
    0800 805 950
  • Email: help@bankomb.org.nz
  • Financial Dispute Resolution – www.fdrs.org.nz Phone: 0508 337 337
  • Email: enquiries@fdrs.org.nz

Cases in the District Courts

The Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice website has information about civil claims in the District Courts: see www.justice.govt.nz and search “Claims you can take to civil court”.

Credit reporting

Privacy Commission

0800 803 909

The Privacy Commission has information on your rights in relation to credit reporting and how to complain if you feel your rights have been breached.

Your credit record

Three credit reporting companies operate nationally in New Zealand. To check your record or correct any information, you’ll need to contact them all.

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit record. You should make sure you choose the free option when you contact each company.

Centrix – www.centrix.co.nz 0800 236 874

Illion – www.illion.co.nz 0800 733 707

Equifax – www.equifax.co.nz 0800 698 332

Personal Properties Securities Register (PPSR)


Search the PPSR register to see if there is any security interest registered against a vehicle. This can be done for a small fee by registering to check online.

Bankruptcy and other options

Insolvency and Trustee Service


Phone: 0508 INSOLVENCY (0508 467 658)

The Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS) deals with bankruptcies, no-asset procedures, summary instalment orders and some company liquidations. Information about those processes is available on its website. The ITS is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

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