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Panda Trouble – Hitching To School – I4Free – Film Premiere – Picasso – Brain Damage – TVNZ – Medical School – Teina Pora – GE Moratorium – PM’s Apology – School Buses – Health Boards – Editorial: John Tamihere

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PANDA TROUBLE: Man trouble may have made red panda Maya high-tail it from Auckland Zoo yesterday. Until a month ago the endangered animal shared her high-walled bushy enclosure with daughter Sym Garyl in relative harmony. But the arrival of prospective mate Shimla from Adelaide Zoo appears to have caused fur to fly.

HITCHING TO SCHOOL: Children in this Waikato town are risking their lives leaping on to moving freight trains to take them to school. Pupils from Ngaruawahia High School are jumping on to the trains as they slow to cross the town's damaged rail bridge.

I4FREE: Telecom is again restricting access to a free Internet service despite a High Court injunction. Telecom claims it had to override the interim injunction granted on Monday barring it from disconnecting i4free users because its Airedale St exchange in central Auckland was experiencing severe overloading.

FILM PREMIERE: The stars will be out at the world premiere of the newest local film next week, but one man will be conspicuous by his absence: the writer of the book it was based on. Jubilee, starring Cliff Curtis and Theresa Healey, is a good-natured comedy about a group of small-town hard cases arranging the 75th anniversary celebrations of the local school.

PICASSO: A Picasso painting has a permanent address at a New Zealand public gallery for the first time. The Auckland Art Gallery will proudly give Verre et Pichet (Glass and Pitcher) its first public showing tonight. Picasso painted the oil in 1944 during the German occupation of Paris.

BRAIN DAMAGE: Auckland researchers have pioneered a genetic drug that could dramatically reduce the spread of brain damage. They say the so-called "antisense" gel could also limit the potentially paralysing effects of spinal cord injuries and speed up the healing of wounds.

TVNZ: The "culture of exorbitance" at the state television broadcaster has been created by its self-styled "stars" and should not exist in a market as small as New Zealand, according to politicians. Parliament's commerce committee yesterday released its report following last week's annual financial review of TVNZ.

MEDICAL SCHOOL: A Niue medical school's plans to bury dissected bodies of impoverished Indians at sea may run foul of local cultural sensitivities. The American-based George Washington School of Medicine being established on the island intends to import embalmed bodies of homeless people from India for student education.

TEINA PORA: Winning his bid for a retrial may backfire on the man convicted of killing Susan Burdett, as he could now spend even longer in prison for his crimes. Teina Pora was convicted by a High Court jury in Auckland yesterday of the 1992 aggravated robbery, rape and murder of the Papatoetoe woman. He was aged 17 at the time.

GE MORATORIUM: Green Party frustration over Labour's plans for the royal commission on genetic engineering has burst upon the public, with the parties rowing over a moratorium on field trials. After weeks of closed-door meetings and consensus-building about the detail of the inquiry, the arguments boiled over yesterday when the Greens tried to force debate on the extent of the moratorium.

PM’S APOLOGY: "End of the honeymoon," crowed Act's Rodney Hide as Parliament yesterday witnessed something historic - an apology from a Prime Minister. It did not matter that this was the most low-key of apologies over something of piddling significance. National and Act MPs whooped like it was Watergate. It was Clarkgate. They had caught the PM out.

SCHOOL BUSES: When Gladstone Primary pupils board an imaginary school bus it is not a game, but a serious attempt to improve safety and local traffic congestion. The Mt Albert school has long been concerned about the dangers its students face on the busy roads outside its gates, especially when many parents of the 800 pupils drop off or pick up their children at the same time.

HEALTH BOARDS: The heads of the new district health boards will be appointed to give the Government a measure of control over the mostly elected bodies. Health Minister Annette King released four cabinet papers yesterday setting out the structure of the boards and detailing how they will be run.

EDITORIAL - JOHN TAMIHERE: It would be unfortunate if John Tamihere and the Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust were felled by accusations of mismanagement and infighting or by political point- scoring. Despite its now obvious management problems, the Waipareira Trust is a triumph for urban Maori. Waipareira works at the hard, dirty, end of Maori social and employment need. Its people tackle challenges that few others want to know about: the rehabilitation of our toughest convicts, the education and turning around of potential young criminals, and the finding of jobs. Rather than sitting behind desks, Waipareira nurses and social workers visit the homes of their sprawling urban whanau, not merely handing out medicine, but helping to raise the expectations and self-esteem of a slice of Auckland's underbelly.


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