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New Zealand Herald

Gisborne Cancer Inquiry - Inquiry Testimony - Maori Education - Rodney Council - Honours List Scrapped - Dr David Lewis - Pensioner Wins ACC - Telecom Competition - Trading Laws - Soldiers Pardoned - Watson Appeal - PI On Tarlton Theives - Baby Clothes - Editorial: Constitutional Change

GISBORNE CANCER INQUIRY: Doctors and other health professionals should have known that pathologist Dr Michael Bottrill was incompetent, a lawyer told the Gisborne cancer inquiry yesterday. In his opening address, Stuart Grieve, QC, said questions must be asked about why Dr Bottrill's incompetence was not detected sooner.

INQUIRY TESTIMONY: In a plain office block, in a long narrow room, the emotions generated by the Gisborne cervical cancer inquiry were laid bare. Women wept as they recounted how aggressive cancers and abnormal cells had suddenly appeared after normal smears.

MAORI EDUCATION: Education officials say schools should consult "community groups" such as the Black Power gang to improve Maori children's level of achievement. The advice is contained in a booklet going to all schools, giving guidelines on how to establish links with Maori parents, whanau, and communities.

RODNEY COUNCIL: Auckland's "Mr Fixit" has been called in to run the dysfunctional Rodney District Council, which was sacked yesterday by Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee. Management consultant Grant Kirby, aged 54, has in his 30 years in local government been Auckland City Council's troubleshooter, but from today he takes the place of Rodney's mayor and 12 councillors.

HONOURS LIST SCRAPPED: New Zealand will scrap the titles of "knight" and "dame" from the honours list. The decision, which has been approved by Buckingham Palace, will mean none will named in the Queen's Birthday list in early June.

DR DAVID LEWIS: Veteran yachtsman and historian Dr David Lewis says the dramatic end to his latest sailing odyssey will not stop him putting to sea again The 82-year-old, who sailed single-handed into Antarctica in 1972, was one of four people rescued from a liferaft after their yacht sank suddenly off Great Barrier Island. Dr Lewis and three friends were at the start of a trip to Fiji when the front mast on their yacht, Taniwha, broke loose below the deck and gashed the hull.

PENSIONER WINS ACC: A Gisborne pensioner whose ACC payments were slashed two years early has won a landmark court ruling which means backpay of $3.8 million for nearly 300 superannuitants. ACC will have to pay out after losing in the Appeal Court over its decision to cut Maureen Watton's payments.

TELECOM COMPETITION: Apart from a few isolated cases, Telecom's 0867 system is not harming the general consumer interest - yet, says the Consumers' Institute. Chief executive David Russell said Telecom's battle with Clear Communications had so far only "inconvenienced a few who had lost their services for a short time."

TRADING LAWS: The manager of an Auckland cyber cafe says the only way to tell whether complicated trading hours laws applied to his business was to risk a hefty fine. LiveWire Mid City manager Reece Beardsall said he was fairly sure opening over Easter would not fall foul of the law, but he engaged business consultant Peter Tutty to make certain.

SOLDIERS PARDONED: A bill granting posthumous pardons to five New Zealand soldiers executed during the First World War for desertion or mutiny will proceed, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced yesterday. The Pardon for Soldiers of the Great War Bill, drafted by Labour's Invercargill MP, Mark Peck, seeks to pardon Privates Victor Spencer, Frank Hughes, John Sweeney and John King, shot for desertion, and Private Jack Braithwaite, executed for mutiny.

WATSON APPEAL: The judge in the Marlborough Sounds double murder trial was criticised by Scott Watson's lawyers yesterday with claims he had been unfair and unbalanced towards the defence. The Court of Appeal was told Justice Heron allowed evidence that "irretrievably prejudiced" Watson's case in the trial and that he severely demeaned the defence by repeatedly interrupting the lawyers during their opening address.

PI ON TARLTON THEIVES: A private investigator has been hired to hunt for a stolen collection of priceless maritime treasures. Salvaged jewellery, coins and other rare shipwreck relics insured for up to $500,000 were stolen from Kelly Tarlton's Tui ship museum at Waitangi on Saturday.

BABY CLOTHES: Middlemore Hospital's appeal for warm baby clothes and goods for the winter ahead has met an overwhelming response. Volunteers spent all yesterday unpacking the donations, to be passed on to needy families.

EDITORIAL: CONSITUTIONAL CHANGE: Constitutional change comes usually from national crises - a revolution, a war of independence, a coup d'etat or civil disorder that cannot be repaired without a thorough renegotiation of the relationships of people and power. Change was never likely to start with a conference such as that which took place in Wellington at the weekend. It was by any definition a fizzer. If there was a groundswell anywhere for a reassessment of our constitution, it was confined to specialised legal and academic circles. And it will not be heard again for a good while.

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