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Samuels Out - Partner In Hills - Dover Samuels Reaction - Months Of Doubt - Woman Maori Minister - Todd Allegations- ACC Search For Danger - Woman, Baby Jump - La Nina Goes - Tinnies On Baby - McCormick To Quit TV?

SAMUELS OUT: Helen Clark yesterday defused the biggest crisis of her prime ministership by sacking Dover Samuels from the cabinet, but admitted she was partly driven by the fear that more allegations would surface about his private life. Displaying her typically upfront style, she made no apologies for bowing to the "reality" that the Maori Affairs Minister could no longer do his job satisfactorily even if he is cleared by a police inquiry of sexual misconduct.

PARTNER IN HILLS: Alison Aris decided to leave her alcoholic partner for a new start, so she packed her things and organised a moving truck for tomorrow. She never found a new life.

DOVER SAMUELS REACTION: "She has the power. She is the rangatira. She is the Prime Minister. It is her prerogative. She giveth and taketh away." Dover Samuels delivered his own political funeral rites yesterday, after being sacked as Maori Affairs Minister.

MONTHS OF DOUBT: At Easter, amid the peace of his beloved Matauri Bay, Dover Samuels seemed to sense the way his career as Minister of Maori Affairs might end. While he was sure he would last the three-year term and had the ability to drive the "closing the gaps" policies, doubts dogged him about the loyalty of his inner circle and of Helen Clark.

WOMAN MAORI MINISTER: Maori leaders want the Government to break new ground by appointing a woman as Maori Affairs Minister to replace the dumped Dover Samuels. Most were dismayed at the way Prime Minister Helen Clark had managed the affair but also felt that Mr Samuels should have stood down first.

TODD ALLEGATIONS: Mark Todd has spoken out for the first time since allegations surfaced that he snorted cocaine with a gay lover, but has steadfastly refused to confirm or deny them. Asked about the truth of the story in a British Sunday tabloid, he instead replied that he would not drag his family and wife Carolyn through an embarrassing legal battle with the paper.

ACC SEARCH FOR DANGER: Accident victims who seem violent or drunk will have their ACC forms marked with warning stickers - to the dismay of privacy and mental health watchdogs. ACC said yesterday that doctors, dentists and other health workers would have the option of labelling their patients' accident claim forms if they considered them dangerous. ACC staff who dealt with them later would know to be careful.

WOMAN, BABY JUMP: Police and rescue services were early this morning searching the Manukau Harbour after reports that a woman fell with a baby from the old Mangere Bridge. The woman's body was recovered by a fishing boat shortly after midnight. The searchers were using airport rescue-fire hovercraft to hunt for the baby. The WestpacTrust helicopter and Coastguard were also scouring the area.

LA NINA GOES: Like a stroppy child sent to bed for bad behaviour, the freak La Nina weather pattern made her parting shot count. Tearing winds and thick belts of rain swept through the northern half of the North Island yesterday thanks to the subtropical pattern, which is renowned for its cyclones and extreme storms.

TINNIES ON BABY: Thirty cannabis "tinnies" were found hidden on a three-month-old baby when police raided a Rotorua gang drug house yesterday. Police last night described the incident as despicable and have brought in social welfare agencies to deal with the baby's mother.

McCORMICK TO QUIT TV?: Gary McCormick is on the brink of quitting television permanently after the failure of his latest show. The star, who had a hit with Heartland but a bomb in McCormick Rips, says he is fed up with being in the public spotlight.


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