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New Zealand Herald

Cigarettes Rise - Waitara Copycat Vandalism - Child Health - Pot Explosion - Super 12 Doctor - Maori & Police - Watson Murders - Winz Report - Dirty Equipment - Fingerprinting System - Monetary Policy Probe - Auckland Councillor - Britomart Cost - Primary Health Betrayal

CIGARETTES RISE: Smokers have suffered a double blow with cigarettes rising by $1 a packet and a proposed ban on smoking in bars and pubs. In a surprise move last night, the Government raised the tax on tobacco, pushing the price of a packet of 20 high-selling Holiday Special Filter cigarettes, for example, from $6.55 to $7.55.

WAITARA COPYCAT VANDALISM: Steve Wallace's family have appealed for calm in troubled Waitara after a copycat vandalism spree left shop windows smashed. The destruction mimics the damage left by 23-year-old Mr Wallace before a policeman shot him in the main street early on April 30. The off-duty Waitara officer and armed offenders squad member was, like Mr Wallace, a Maori.

CHILD HEALTH: New Zealanders have been accused of "copping out" as a nation over the dismal state of child health. Health professionals have challenged the public to stop burying their heads in the sand.

POT EXPLOSION: Layers of skin peeled off a badly burned man when he collapsed in a shower after his home exploded during an apparent drug-making attempt. The man whimpered "let me have the water, let me have the water" as at least seven patches of burned skin fell from his arms, face and head and into the shower of his horrified neighbour.

SUPER 12 DOCTOR: As the doctor for the Chiefs Super 12 rugby team, Steve Reid is used to dealing with pain, but a violent shooting in South Africa was a "sobering experience" for the Hamilton GP. The 40-year-old rushed to the aid of a security guard, shot in the head and shoulder, during a botched robbery at the Durban resort where the team are staying.

MAORI & POLICE: The Prime Minister yesterday pledged to give priority to healing relations between police and Maori in struggling communities, in a bid to pacify her Maori MPs over the Waitara shooting. Helen Clark's promise to put policing on the agenda of the cabinet's "closing the gaps" committee came during a snap debate in Parliament on the death of Steve Wallace.

WATSON MURDERS: Police believed Scott Watson was genuine when he offered Olivia Hope and Ben Smart a bed for the night but flipped when the couple did not want to party. A book on the Marlborough Sounds murders released yesterday details a police reconstruction of what happened early on New Year's Day, 1998, and their views on how the couple were killed.

WINZ REPORT: Heavy watering down has left the final report on Work and Income New Zealand without a single recommendation. The draft report contained 10 recommendations, including

DIRTY EQUIPMENT: ROTORUA - More than 30 Rotorua Hospital patients may have contracted HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, from being treated with contaminated equipment during colonoscopy examinations. But Lakeland Health has assured the 34 patients the risk is "negligible."

FINGERPRINTING SYSTEM: WELLINGTON - A new fingerprinting system allows police to compare crime-scene prints with a national database within minutes. Revealing the $2.3 million AFIS, or Automated Fingerprint Information System, yesterday in Wellington, Police Minister George Hawkins said: "The police have made another step forward, and life is going to get tougher for these criminals in New Zealand who leave their prints around."

MONETARY POLICY PROBE: The Government has launched a probe into monetary policy, but has ruled out a rethink of the Reserve Bank's independence or its primary focus on price stability. Announcing the review, which was flagged in the pre-election policies of both Labour and the Alliance, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the Government was not seeking to reinvent the wheel or make fundamental changes to the bank.

AUCKLAND COUNCILLOR: Fresh from the battlefields of East Timor, Auckland City councillor Maire Leadbeater is now deploying her peacekeeping skills much closer to home. "At least there aren't any guns," she smiles, astride the no-man's-land dividing deepest Balmoral.

BRITOMART COST: The cost of building a replacement transport terminal for Britomart has fallen by up to $60 million. The huge drop in price has been revealed to some councillors by the project manager for the Waitemata Waterfront Development Group, Mark Kunath.

PRIMARY HEALTH BETRAYAL: A Manukau City councillor has accused the Auckland University medical school's Primary Health Care Trust of betraying the Manurewa community. Manurewa councillor Alan Johnson said a medical school plan to sub-lease the local Health Care Trust to the Takanini Care consortium of GPs meant the trust would be using a community facility to make a profit.

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