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New Zealand Herald

Blind Delight – Nbr Names Officer - Tranz Rail Inquiry - Waitara Hui - Slater In Hurricanes - Waitemata Health - Airways Corp Allegations - Parking Officer Fired- Ashpalt Roads- Bus Danger - Moh Lawyer Proposal - New Elections - Timberlands Rimu Logging - Tougher Sentences

BLIND DELIGHT: Chelsey Hohaia cannot see but she can delight in the cool feel of water as it gushes from a fountain. The 8-year-old can run her hand along the spikey grasses in the native garden or feel the sand run through her fingers in the sandpit.

NBR NAMES OFFICER: The Police Association has slammed the National Business Review for naming the police officer at the centre of the Waitara shooting. In this morning's front page article the NBR accused other news media of losing their nerve and allowing the police to manipulate them into not publishing the officer's name.

TRANZ RAIL INQUIRY: A ministerial inquiry is to be held into safety at Tranz Rail after the deaths of five rail workers in seven months. Labour Minister Margaret Wilson is concerned that rules covering Tranz Rail's safety protection are not as stringent as those covering other companies.

WAITARA HUI: Relations between police and Maori in Waitara seriously deteriorated after police went to a hui last December allegedly with firearms in their cars, says an official report written for the Prime Minister. The police callout, which followed tension at the hui over treaty claims, signalled "great concern" within the Maori community even before the shooting of Steven Wallace nearly two weeks ago.

SLATER IN HURRICANES: All Black prop Gordon Slater has answered a plea from his Hurricanes Super 12 team and left the hospital bedside of his wife and new daughter to fly to South Africa for a crucial match. Slater, who was in New Plymouth for the birth of second daughter Olivia, landed yesterday for the must-win match against the Bulls after a 24-hour, 13,000km dash.

WAITEMATA HEALTH: Waitemata Health went ahead with a secret inquiry into its care of murderer Lachlan Jones knowing full well that the preferred method was a more public process, says the Director of Mental Health. Dr Janice Wilson is promising to scrutinise the health provider as it implements a set of recommendations from a damning review of its care of Jones.

AIRWAYS CORP ALLEGATIONS: Four senior Airways Corporation figures last night denied allegations made in Parliament that they are set to gain $30 million from a bid for the British air traffic control system. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters stepped up his claims against the company by naming the people he alleges will benefit from a joint deal to buy a share in Britain's system.

PARKING OFFICER FIRED: A former Waitakere City parking officer says he was fired for not issuing enough tickets. Ponifasio Ioane says that four years into his job with the council, his ticket rate was challenged by the new parking team leader, Colin Waite.

ASHPALT ROADS: The well-heeled residents of Auckland's eastern suburbs are demanding high-priced and quiet asphalt roads because the noise generated by cheaper chipseal is lowering the tone of the area. Residents in Remuera and Parnell already have costly red scoria footpaths and now the Hobson Community Board wants all its streets laid in asphalt at a cost of about $15 million.

BUS DANGER: A 13-year-old boy fell and broke his arm getting off a moving bus a fortnight before another Auckland boy was thrown under the wheels of a bus and killed. Both accidents on Stagecoach buses have put child safety on buses into the spotlight and prompted the company to launch multiple investigations.

MOH LAWYER PROPOSAL: Angry lawyers have vowed to fight a Ministry of Health proposal banning them from questioning or crossexamining witnesses in official health inquiries. The proposal, detailed in a memo from Health Minister Annette King to the cabinet's social policy and health committee, said lawyers should be confined to questioning inquiry teams rather than witnesses.

NEW ELECTIONS: Former top public servant Don Hunn thinks we will have to pay 30 per cent more than we do now if we want an election-night system that produces results before breakfast the next day. He was giving evidence before Parliament's justice and electoral select committee this week into the fiasco that was voting day, November 27, 1999.

TIMBERLANDS RIMU LOGGING: The cabinet is poised to choose next year as the cut-off for Timberlands' rimu logging on the West Coast when it considers the issue on Monday. It is understood that the policy and strategy committee, the cabinet's most powerful subcommittee, met this week but stopped short of a definitive recommendation.

TOUGHER SENTENCES: A growing demand for tougher sentences for violent teenage crimes means five Auckland youths will be sentenced in the High Court. In the Youth Court at Otahuhu yesterday, Judge David Harvey sent three girls, aged 14, 15 and 16, and two boys, aged 14 and 15, to the High Court at Auckland for sentencing.

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