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New Zealand Herald

Coke Smuggler - 50,000 Payout - Todd Allegations - Actor Storms Off - Astro The Dog - Email Virus - Couple Missing - Coroner Hearing - Health System - Beer & Pizza - Heroin Chief - Father & Sons

COKE SMUGGLER: The euphonium player in Gisborne's Salvation Army band has been arrested at Lima airport, allegedly trying to smuggle 6kg of cocaine out of Peru. Robert James Campbell Stewart, a 61-year-old Gisborne builder, was arrested on June 10 as he was leaving Peru for Europe, and is being held at Lima's Dinandro Detention Centre.

50,000 PAYOUT: EXCLUSIVE - The Chief Ombudsman and the Solicitor-General negotiated a secret $50,000 payout with a public servant to stop her setting an expensive precedent for parental leave. Details of the confidential agreement - hidden from the public until now - are revealed in documents obtained by the Herald.

TODD ALLEGATIONS: Olympic equestrian champion Mark Todd is expected to talk today about the sex and drugs scandal threatening his sporting career. Yesterday, he told TV3 he was meeting his lawyers in England today and a statement was likely to follow.

ACTOR STORMS OFF: Lead actor Rima Te Wiata stormed off the stage in protest at the behaviour of a man in the audience during a performance of Woman Far Walking at the Aotea Centre. Te Wiata, who plays the younger self of 160-year-old Tiri Mahana, was distracted during Monday evening's performance at the Herald Theatre in Auckland by a member of the audience eating sweets.

ASTRO THE DOG: Five weeks and two days after tumbling down an old mineshaft, Astro the dog was pulled to safety in a canvas sack. The 8-year-old border collie apparently survived 37 days without food or water by living off moisture dripping down the shaft.

COUPLE MISSING: Police say a woman and her son missing in the Tararua Ranges would not leave each other to get help if one of them got into difficulty. The pair are now 10 days overdue from a weekend tramping trip and police believe there is little chance of finding them alive.

EMAIL VIRUS: A new computer virus, which has caused e-mail shutdowns at four large American companies, is being reported in New Zealand. The "stages" virus, which looks like a harmless text file, does no harm to computer files but, like May's Love Bug virus, simply multiplies by sending itself to everyone listed in the infected computer's address book.

CORONER HEARING: One of New Zealand's leading psychiatrists broke down in tears yesterday as he told a murder-suicide coroner's hearing of his frustrations with an under-resourced mental health system. The hearing in the Auckland District Court also heard that axe killer Lachlan Jones had attacked a previous flatmate, and mental health staff knew about it.

HEALTH SYSTEM: A report comparing the world's health systems has ranked New Zealand 41st behind countries such as Chile, Morocco and Costa Rica. The World Health Report 2000 gives an index of national health systems for the first time and their ability to achieve good health status for their population, be responsive to people's expectations and maintain fair financial contribution.

BEER & PIZZA: If you have yearned for a beer or wine to wash down your pizza while watching a video at home, help may be on the way. The Pizza Hut chain could soon satisfy all your needs with just one phone call when it begins home delivery of a range of convenience items to go with its pizzas.

HEROIN CHIEF: Lawyers for Hing Hung Wong are claiming United States detectives are using sloppy and unreliable evidence in order to extradite the alleged heroin chief. John Haigh, QC, yesterday told the Auckland District Court that the "unsavoury antics" of federal agents meant crucial evidence against his client should be tossed out.

FATHER & SONS: Forget the relative costs of a football or a Barbie doll - American researchers claim fathers earn more if they have a son than a daughter. They say men's incomes rise an average of nearly 5 per cent every time they have a child, but the increase is far greater for a boy than a girl.

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