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Rugby Tragedy – TVNZ – Hawkesby – Police – Motorway Crash – Gang Member Shot – Regatta Day – Prada – Montreal Protocol – Trent Bray – Election Inquiry – Greens – Waitangi – Editorial: Auckland

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RUGBY TRAGEDY: Tragedy has struck former Auckland club rugby player Legi Matiu a week before he will make his international debut for France in the Six Nations championship. Matiu and his wife Careen's four month old daughter Laina died on Friday. The former Ponsonby forward, who has played in France for the past seven years - the last four with Biarritz - has vowed to take his place in the French side in honour of his daughter.

TVNZ: The job of Television New Zealand boss Rick Ellis is on the line after the multimillion-dollar payout to former newsreader John Hawkesby. Mr Ellis is understood to be taking legal advice on his position as chief executive as he scrambles to defend the decision to dismiss Hawkesby, who has been awarded compensation thought to be as high as $6 million.

HAWKESBY: John Hawkesby's journey from darling of the small screen to High Court litigant has more twists than a low-budget mini-series. It was in February 1992 that the award-winning news presenter shocked television land by announcing he was cutting his ties with TVNZ (for the first time) and defecting to rival TV3.

POLICE: A new position of secretary of police may be created at the top of the police force and opened up to civilian applications. The Government has indicated it favours a police officer for the job of commissioner, but Police Minister George Hawkins has raised the possibility of introducing a civilian leader into the police hierarchy, too.

MOTORWAY CRASH: Horrified strollers watched in disbelief yesterday as a four-wheel-drive vehicle plunged 12m off the Southern Motorway flyover into their midst in Victoria Park. The southbound Chevrolet Blazer, towing a trailer, smashed through the motorway barrier, flipped and landed upside down, leaving a 15-year-old girl dangling out of the vehicle.

GANG MEMBER SHOT: An associate of the Northland branch of the Tribesmen gang was shot in the head early yesterday and is not expected to live. Police said Shane Francis Hohepa, aged 24, was delivered by car to Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland soon after the 8 am shooting at a party at the gang's headquarters in Glasgow Ave, Papatoetoe.

REGATTA DAY: Coastguard officers are urging boaties to use common sense for today's big Auckland Anniversary Day regatta, after a chaotic weekend on the water. Auckland Volunteer Coastguard vessels went from one rescue to another and weary officers last night pleaded with boaties to respect the conditions and not be foolish.

PRADA: One of the biggest names in yachting could be in for a big ride today as eight superyachts line up for an Auckland Anniversary Regatta demonstration. It is rumoured that "Mr Prada" himself, Patrizio Bertelli, will be at the start line in the Rangitoto channel if the Italian fashion house boss' America's Cup commitments - and weather - permit.

MONTREAL PROTOCOL: New Zealand environmentalists and politicians are hailing an international agreement allowing countries to restrict imports of genetically modified crops. The deal, reached in Montreal on Saturday after meetings involving 130 countries at a United Nations summit, is the biggest setback suffered by the beleaguered genetically modified food industry.

TRENT BRAY: Trent Bray is up against it as he prepares to face the Swimming New Zealand tribunal, which will decide his sporting future. The president of the association, Phil Pritchard, said the regulations were clear on issues of positive drugs tests.

ELECTION INQUIRY: The Prime Minister has hinted at a major shake-up in the administration of future elections and rejected outright any suggestion that polling booths close early. Helen Clark said she was "absolutely amazed" at a reported proposal that polling booths be closed early so vote counting can be completed more quickly, and instead suggested the structures needed to change.

GREENS: The Green Party will fashion itself into a "third force" in Parliament, and promises to push hard its environmental policies, including a demand for eco-taxes. Flushed with their extra-time success in the election, 180 party faithful gathered at Otaki, near Wellington, at the weekend to set priorities and strategies for the next year.

WAITANGI: The Ngapuhi tribal council is working to undo Titewhai Harawira's ban from the Waitangi marae "before we make fools of ourselves on February 6." Runanga (council) chairman Rudy Taylor said the ban was being seen as a "red rag to a bull," and he would seek an urgent meeting with the marae officials who had banned the veteran activist over her stand on women's speaking rights.

EDITORIAL – AUCKLAND: What is Auckland? Who are Aucklanders? These are fair questions to ask on the day that commemorates its founding and doubly so when an Auckland University of Technology study of languages spoken by its residents has highlighted the changing pattern of its ethnic fabric. That study revealed that the natural tendency to congregate by those who speak a particular language has brought a particular character to different parts of the region. Cantonese and Northern Chinese have been drawn to Howick, Koreans have added their cultural presence to Torbay and Sunnynook while Hindi and Gujarati- speaking Indians have concentrated in New Windsor and Lynfield. These are recent developments: Maori have profoundly influenced the city since its founding. More recently, other Polynesian groups have been influencing the character of different parts of the region: Tongans in Penrose and Sandringham, Samoans in Mangere, Otahuhu and other parts of southern Auckland.

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