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New Zealand Herald

Children Pricked - New Cancer Scare - School Shuts Down- Freda Stark- Mobile Plunket- Catman’s Body- 2nd Hand Smoke- Trent Bray’s Name- Cervical Inquiry- Robert Mahuta- Nigerian Money Scam- Varroa Decision- Patient Released

CHILDREN PRICKED: Four children have been tested for HIV and hepatitis after hundreds of dirty hypodermic needles were dumped in an Auckland playground. The children - aged 3 to 7 - now face an agonising wait of weeks to see if they test positive after playing with the bloody syringes.

- NEW CANCER SCARE: A new cancer-test botch-up has Gisborne men in a state of fear as Health Minister Annette King moved swiftly yesterday to sack the region's health board. Hundreds of men may have been given incorrect results from tests on their prostate glands at Gisborne Hospital.

- SCHOOL SHUTS DOWN: A small school that lost all its children and is officially closed down still has five staff members on the payroll. Donnellys Crossing School, 46km northwest of Dargaville, has had no pupils since the end of May, when the last family pulled out.

- FREDA STARK: The grey world of banking was given a streak of thespian colour when a "Mr Freda Stark" called to collect a fistful of $100 notes from Auckland's theatrical past. National Bank staff in Ponsonby were rapt when Harold Robinson, a soldier turned Sadler's Wells ballet dancer who married the renowned Freda Stark, swept in yesterday to receive a nest egg salted away in an old account.

- MOBILE PLUNKET: Plunket might have to reduce home visits and its mobile bus service because of soaring petrol prices. Plunket's northern region acting manager, Colleen Fakalogotoa, said it was struggling to cover the costs of travelling to homes in remote areas.

- CATMAN’S BODY: The lights are out at "the catman's" place. The decomposed body of the elderly man was found in his Freemans Bay flat yesterday, after a lawnmowing contractor noticed flies and a terrible smell.

- 2ND HAND SMOKE: Second-hand cigarette smoke kills more than 500 New Zealanders a year, say lobbyists gearing up for a fight to tighten smokefree laws. Anti-smoking groups are shining the spotlight on smoky bars in which they claim workers are being poisoned by carcinogens such as benzene and other toxic components of cigarettes.

- TRENT BRAY’S NAME: Trent Bray will continue the fight to clear his name, but no longer wants to represent New Zealand at swimming. The 26-year-old Aucklander, accused of taking the banned substance nandrolone, will go to the Court of Appeal after the High Court last week endorsed the Sports Drug Agency's testing procedures.

- CERVICAL INQUIRY: A former chairman of the Medical Council has conceded that doctor self-regulation in such a small medical specialist community as New Zealand's is at risk of failing. During cross-examination at the Gisborne cancer inquiry, Dr Ken Thomson agreed that "internal morality" was in jeopardy when there were so few cytopathologists.

- ROBERT MAHUTA: Tainui leader Sir Robert Mahuta has two more days to battle moves to oust him from power. The tribe's executive council, Tekaumarua, says it will decide his future when it meets tomorrow at its Hopuhopu headquarters near Ngaruawahia.

- NIGERIAN MONEY SCAM: Several large chunks out of $7 million allegedly squandered in a Nigerian investment scam are said to have been lost in payments to Africans - including a "driver" working for a bank executive. Former Citibank investment manager Graeme Kenneth Rutherfurd said in a taped interview that he split payments into small sums and sent them to different accounts so the Nigerians could avoid declaring the money to their Government.

- VARROA DECISION: Bitter beekeepers and horticulturists have condemned the Government's decision not to attempt a $55 million plan designed to eradicate the bee-killing Varroa mite. Gutted, shattered, shocked and disappointed were the first words yesterday from beekeepers, fruit and vegetable growers and cropping farmers told to live with the invading pest - a ruling that will forever change their businesses for the worse.

- PATIENT RELEASED: The man who gained notoriety for escaping from secure psychiatric units last year has been released from an Auckland clinic after nine months' detention. Sonny Moananu was released on June 2 from the Mason Clinic, which houses criminally dangerous psychiatric patients, after a judge decided he did not pose a threat to himself or others at present.

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