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The New Zealand Herald

Tragedy In Muriwai - Mobile Crime - Cancer Deaths Down - Satellite Phone - St Stephens Bullying - Woman Music Fest - Dragon Boaters - Probation Crime - Electric Fast-Food - Act Dumps Nats - Chatham Oil Slick - Race Unity Day - Royalists Fight Back - Death Discovery

TRAGEDY IN MURIWAI: An elderly woman cradled her husband's head to keep him from drowning as his broken body lay sinking under a four-wheel-drive on wet sand at Muriwai beach. Ian Lloyd, aged 72, of Muriwai, later died at Auckland Hospital of his injuries after tragedy ended four old friends' mullet-fishing expedition.

MOBILE CRIME: Criminals are frustrating police by using prepaid mobile phones to conduct their business. The phones are popular with crooks because there is no way of tracing their owners - there is no contract to sign or identification required when someone buys one

CANCER DEATHS DOWN: More New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer every year but the number dying from the disease seems to be decreasing. Provisional figures show the number of cancer cases in recent years rising gradually, a trend attributed to better reporting systems and our ageing population.

SATELLITE PHONE: A Frenchman attempting to row across the Pacific fears his satellite phone will be cut off because the US communications company Iridium has gone broke. Jo Le Guen is heading for the southern tip of Chile as Iridium plans to switch off its 66-satellite system.

ST STEPHENS BULLYING: While 23 St Stephen's School pupils were terrorising younger students last month, the Education Review Office was preparing a report saying the school was becoming safer. The 23 senior students - more than one-fifth of its roll - were suspended after a game of hide and seek called "Manhunt" turned violent on February 15 and junior boys were beaten, kicked and hit around the ears.

WOMAN MUSIC FEST: The Womad music festival, the Christmas tree in Aotea Square and a cheap ticket scheme for students could be axed as part of a $1 million financial squeeze at The Edge. Auckland City councillors have voted to trim $975,000 from a range of special events in the coming year at The Edge, which runs the Aotea Centre, Town Hall and refurbished Civic Theatre.

DRAGON BOATERS: Dragon boaters know how to have a good time. Singing, eating, silly wigs and unusual warm-ups were all par for the course at the Viaduct Basin in Auckland at the weekend as more than 2500 competitors took part in the annual Dragon Boat Festival.

PROBATION CRIME: Probation officers have allegedly been offering friends free gardening, lawn mowing and cleaning services to be carried out by sentenced offenders. Sources told the Herald that they were offered the "free labour" by officers they knew, who worked for the Community Probation Service.

ELECTRIC FAST-FOOD: A fast-food caravan in the American Express NZ Cup Village has been closed after three people received electric shocks on Saturday. The Occupational Safety and Health service is investigating, but spokesman Justin Brownlie said he could give few details.

ACT DUMPS NATS: Act has turned its back on its former ally and admitted embarrassment at having supported National in Government. MPs at Act's party conference in Auckland yesterday fired the first salvos in what could be a nasty fight for the right and centre-right vote. Yea, as they left the temple, the disciples had reconfirmed their belief and were fired up by the spirit. And so it was as 400 members of Act filed out of the party's annual conference in Auckland yesterday after a weekend of soul-searching.

CHATHAM OIL SLICK: In Waitangi, the Chatham Islands will continue to offer its bays to sheltering ships, but does not want to be exploited any more. Mayor Patrick Smith said yesterday that he did not know the fishing trawler Seafresh 1, which sank last week in a bay on the eastern side of Chatham Island, was a "dead ship" until four days after its arrival.

RACE UNITY DAY: Dinner at the Prasad household last night was an exotic mix: Congolese chicken breasts, Chinese mushrooms, Indian eggplant and potato curry. Dr Rajen Prasad, the Race Relations Conciliator, and his wife, Prem, began his office's Race Unity Day campaign at home with a dinner celebrating variety as the spice of life.

ROYALISTS FIGHT BACK: Royalists on the Auckland City Council are moving to have the Queen's portrait reinstated in the council chamber. They also want the "gang of five" behind the midnight swoop on the Queen censured by the full council.

DEATH DISCOVERY: An elderly man lay dead in his central Auckland flat for nearly a week before a neighbour found him. Police were called to the Auckland City Council-owned Beresford Flats in Freemans Bay yesterday afternoon after John Bonis discovered the body of Patrick Ryan.

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