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New Zealand Herald

Fishing Tragedy - Inmate Employment - Tainui Hotel - Fingerprint Insurance - Beaten Survives - Dash Phone Records - Tongan Overstayers - Women’s Hockey - Winebox Turnaround - Electricity Watchdog - Tamihere Apologises

FISHING TRAGEDY: Kirsty Robinson thought about her family and tried to keep positive as she drifted for hours off the coast of Maketu after a fishing trip turned to tragedy, leaving her the only survivor. She had to watch her companions, John Lim, aged 38, Tim Cantwell, 14, and finally her father, Ross, 45, gradually slip away after their boat, Mafoff 3, sank near Plate Island.

INMATE EMPLOYMENT: The Corrections Department rakes in $20 million a year from an inmate employment scheme which private companies say is undercutting their industries and threatening jobs. About 500 prisoners around the country are working six-hour days on commercial projects for an average $12 a week, compared with the statutory minimum wage of $280.

TAINUI HOTEL: The Hamilton City Council and Tainui have been forced to pay an extra $500,000 each to keep their Novotel Tainui hotel afloat after the ANZ Bank wiped more than $5 million off the value of the business. In a tense meeting last night, city councillors decided they had no option but to put a further $512,400 into a term deposit as security on loans from the ANZ following its devaluation of Novotel's worth from $26.5 to $21.2 million.

FINGERPRINT INSURANCE: Police want to fingerprint children and babies as insurance in case they go missing or are abducted. The fingerprinting will be offered by police in Whangarei during the school holidays, starting next week.

BEATEN SURVIVES: Bashing victim Stephen Byrne has stunned his family and police by coming out of his coma, and pleased doctors say he has a reasonable chance of returning to a normal life. Mr Byrne, a 37-year-old waiter at Cin Cin on Quay, was badly beaten in downtown Auckland after a night on the town two weeks ago.

DASH PHONE RECORDS: Police are examining phone records which show that Wellington student Gavin Dash received repeated calls from a former flatmate before disappearing. The 26-year-old flatmate is the registered owner of two vehicles police seized for forensic examination.

TONGAN OVERSTAYERS: A decision by Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel to let a family of Tongan overstayers remain in New Zealand could lead to a flood of illegal migrants, say MPs. Ms Dalziel used her powers of discretion to grant a reprieve to the Mila family, who have been living in South Auckland since being served with removal orders in 1993.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY: They were greeted with cheers and flowers in Auckland yesterday, but for the victorious New Zealand women's hockey team there will be no time to rest on their laurels - an Olympic medal beckons. After wins against Britain and Germany at the Olympic qualifying tournament at Milton Keynes in England, the team now rank among the world's top six and are firm contenders for medals in Sydney.

WINEBOX TURNAROUND: Inland Revenue has done a u-turn on the Magnum Winebox transaction and now believes it was fraudulent, Government sources said yesterday. The Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen, confirmed that the Solicitor-General, John McGrath, QC, was considering whether to initiate court action.

ELECTRICITY WATCHDOG: A power engineer says New Zealand needs an independent electricity watchdog to prevent ruinous supply failures. Bryan Leyland told the ministerial inquiry into the electricity industry in Auckland yesterday that the breakup of the industry into generators, retailers and lines companies had made it difficult, if not impossible, for the industry to work for the benefit of itself and consumers.

TAMIHERE APOLOGISES: Labour MP John Tamihere has bowed to pressure from his party colleagues and apologised to three people he called "drug addicts and thieves." In a statement to Parliament yesterday he expressed regret for the accusations he made against the Waipareira Trust identities last week.

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