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Boy Dies - Climbing Disaster - Burglary Crackdown - Cervical Inquiry - School Of Dreams - Maori Spectrum - Herion Dealer - Pohutu Geyser - Employment Law - Erb Legislation - Turkey Tour - Interest Rises - Hospital Money - Funding Changes

BOY DIES: Matthew Skerrett loved yellow hibiscus flowers. The 3-year-old and his mum, Penny, would often sit beside a small hibiscus shrub in the grounds of Green Lane Hospital, where Matthew went nine times for surgery to correct a severe heart condition.

CLIMBING DISASTER: OAMARU - Paul Hannah saw a wall of snow breaking away above him and jumped for it. But the avalanche that killed two of his mates snatched his legs from under him. Four climbers, all aged 20 and under, were swept away in the Southern Alps at lunchtime on Wednesday.

BURGLARY CRACKDOWN: A new crackdown on burglary has come too late for Kim Scherp, but she hopes it will save others from the disruption she has suffered. Last May 6, she arrived home from work to find that burglars had broken into her Manurewa home for the second time, stealing a camera, video players and stereo worth $3000

CERVICAL INQUIRY: A document comparing the rates of abnormal smears reported by laboratories nationwide has been censored by the Gisborne cervical screening inquiry. The document, which compares the cervical smear reporting rates of 30 hospital and community laboratories in the year to June 1994, was presented to the inquiry yesterday with the names and regions of the laboratories deleted.

SCHOOL OF DREAMS: Piopio is not the sort of place people usually stop at when travelling south from Hamilton - and it is fairly obvious the locals don't expect many travellers to call in. A sign just before the small row of shops lining each side of the one main street welcomes passersby with the words: "Please drive slowly through our village."

MAORI SPECTRUM: A spat within the Coalition over the auction of a new mobile phone spectrum deepened yesterday, with a powerful minister and an Alliance Maori MP challenging each other's truthfulness. The most vocal opponent in the Maori caucus, Alliance MP Willie Jackson, and Acting Communications Minister Trevor Mallard questioned each other's recall about what the Maori MPs agreed to before the cabinet's plans were unveiled on February 2.

HERION DEALER: United States drug-busters are not the only ones who were highly upset when Auckland courts freed alleged heroin dealer Hing Hung Wong on bail pending extradition hearings. The co-owners of the apartment block where Wong is under "house arrest" are equally furious, if for rather different reasons.

POHUTU GEYSER: ROTORUA - One of New Zealand's most famous landmarks, the Pohutu Geyser, has broken its fickle reputation and a 64-year record by playing continuously for 40 days. The geyser is thought to be at least 1000 years old and has drawn tourists to the Whakarewarewa thermal reserve since the 1800s with its spectacular display of surging steam and water.

EMPLOYMENT LAW: Unions say the new employment law may lead workers to consider striking more often, but believe industrial action will decrease as work environments improve. The Council of Trade Unions also wants to extend workers' rights to strike and give them the ability to take industrial action over social and economic issues.

ERB LEGISLATION: Oh, the lights, the cameras, the action. For just a few minutes at the end of the parliamentary select committee hearing on the Employment Relations Bill yesterday, Lockwood Smith must have been having flashbacks to his days on television's It's Academic.

TURKEY TOUR: The tour of earthquake-hit northwestern Turkey may have been a whistle-stop, but Helen Clark would have to travel a long way to find a warmer welcome. The Prime Minister was met by hundreds of clapping children, a posse of local journalists and a group of grateful officials who turned out in the rain in the small town of Kaynafli yesterday.

INTEREST RISES: Recent interest-rate rises are shutting low-income earners out of the housing market, with research showing it is becoming harder to afford a new home. Mortgage-rate rises have also been linked to a further drop in the number of new homes being built.

HOSPITAL MONEY: An extra $21 million is being pumped into hospitals over the next two months to boost non-urgent operations as Labour makes an early start on its ambitious plan to cut surgery waiting times. The extra cash for elective surgery will go to regions such as South Auckland where Health Minister Annette King says money is being "gobbled up" by acute surgery.

FUNDING CHANGES: Funding changes for early childhood education could see childcare centres rated like schools, with more money for those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. And in a review of funding principles announced yesterday, Education Minister Trevor Mallard promised a $3 million injection for the early childhood discretionary grants scheme. The scheme funds community-based, non-profit services to help them reach or maintain licensing standards.

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