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New Zealand Herald

Regatta Mayhem – Screwdriver Gang – TVNZ – Waitangi – Hawkesby – Contact Energy – Huntly Smash – Gang Murder – INCIS – Earthquake Strengthening – Hoarding – National Caucus – Timberlands – GE Sheep – Ecstasy – Editorial: TVNZ

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REGATTA MAYHEM: Rain squalls, winds up to 35 knots and 2m swells combined for an uncomfortable Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta yesterday, keeping the Coastguard busy in Waitemata Harbour. While rescue services were relieved many boaties heeded warnings and kept off the water, some of those who ventured out struck trouble early.

SCREWDRIVER GANG: A fugitive member of the Screwdriver Gang says he and his associates want to turn themselves in but are afraid police will shoot them. Paul Tipene, named by police for his alleged part in five bank raids, called the Herald by cellphone last night.

TVNZ: The Government has pulled the plug on Television New Zealand's ambitious $217 million plans for a multi-channel digital network. In the opening shot of the Coalition's promised shake-up of the state-owned broadcaster, the digital plans will be shelved until a review of public broadcasting is conducted.

WAITANGI: Uncertainty surrounds the Governor-General's attendance at Waitangi ceremonies as police assess whether they can guarantee his safety. The likelihood of a confrontation on the marae is prompting concern over the security of Sir Michael Hardie Boys and cabinet ministers.

HAWKESBY: Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs has heard conflicting reports on how the John Hawkesby payout occurred - but says she will not investigate until after a High Court appeal. Television New Zealand is appealing against the amount of compensation awarded to the dismissed newsreader by an arbitrator, and wants the confidential details of the dispute made public.

CONTACT ENERGY: Contact Energy has won the right to build a geothermal power station on the outskirts of Taupo, a project bitterly opposed by residents. The company can proceed with its plan to develop the untapped Tauhara field east of the town, after its appeal to the Environment Court overturned decisions by the Taupo District Council and the Waikato Regional Council.

HUNTLY SMASH: Seven people were taken to hospital after a police car smashed into two oncoming vehicles on State Highway 1 yesterday. Police have launched an investigation into the 11.45 am incident near Huntly, which left a 6-year-old boy with serious head injuries.

GANG MURDER: A member of the Tribesmen Motorcycle Club has been charged with murder over the shooting on Sunday of a man at the gang's headquarters in South Auckland. The 30-year-old man will appear in court today as police continue their investigations at the Glasgow Ave, Papatoetoe, address where Shane Hohepa, aged 24, from Northland, was shot in the head early on Sunday.

INCIS: The Government has heeded pleas to scale back the inquiry into the Incis police computer debacle. It will today announce plans to reduce the scope of the inquiry, initiated by the previous National-led Administration to review how police and other Government departments handled the failed $107 million project.

EARTHQUAKE STRENGTHENING: An earthquake-risk grading scheme is being touted as a way of shaking up commercial property-owners' attitudes to strengthening their buildings. An organiser of the international earthquake engineering conference being held in Auckland this week says mandatory grading would make earthquake improvements a financial necessity because prospective tenants and buyers would shun unsafe buildings with low grades.

HOARDING: Next door's rubbish mountain has crept above fence height. It's a fire risk, it stinks and it's infested with rats - you want it gone. Maybe you are just the victim of a lazy neighbour. Then again, he or she could be a victim of compulsive hoarding - a condition considered a serious illness.

NATIONAL CAUCUS: National Party MPs have ensconced themselves in the Waipuna Conference Centre in Auckland to plan their strategy for the next three years in Opposition. "We are taking stock and making sure that National renews its links with New Zealanders from every walk of life," said party leader Jenny Shipley.

TIMBERLANDS: The Government has been assured that Kit Richards, the Timberlands executive who resigned last week, will not receive a "golden handshake." The minister responsible for the state-owned enterprise, Pete Hodgson, was assured of that yesterday by the Timberlands board chairman, Warren Young.

GE SHEEP: Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton has hammered the Greens for wanting to stop testing of genetically engineered sheep with a human gene in trials aimed at cystic fibrosis treatment. The Greens want the Waikato trial stopped until the promised royal commission on genetic engineering has been set up and reported back.

ECSTASY: Green MP Nandor Tanczos will raise the status of the drug Ecstasy with the Government. Reform of the drug laws was one of the party's election platforms, and it indicated yesterday that it did not intend containing the debate to cannabis.

EDITORIAL – TVNZ: The powers that be at TVNZ are staking a claim - with their ham-fisted handling of the ousting of presenter John Hawkesby - for a place in the hall of fame for New Zealand corporate excess and non-accountability. Those who stealthily hired and summarily fired the news anchor in late 1998 and early 1999 now face writing him a cheque for anything up to $6 million. That figure is the upper end of a range understood to have been set in arbitration by a former judge.

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