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New Zealand Herald

Air NZ Avoids Fiji - Pilots Hostage - NZ Soldier Body - Concorde Failure - Samuels’ Record - Taupo Couple - Wairapa Toddler - Sports Models - Falling Logs - Billionaire Dope Smuggler - Stormwater Surge - Hastings Murder - Cervical Inquiry - Gore Takes Aim

AIR NZ AVOIDS FIJI: Air New Zealand has announced it will "overfly" Fiji as the political situation there continues to deteriorate into violence. Yesterday, two New Zealand pilots working for Air Fiji were taken hostage by rebels supporting coup leader George Speight. Speight is also in captivity, following his arrest at a military checkpoint on Wednesday.

- PILOTS HOSTAGE: A young pilot flying around strife-torn Fiji to get money to pay off his student loan was one of two New Zealanders kidnapped at gunpoint on the island of Vanua Levu yesterday. James Henry, aged 27, from Kerikeri in the Far North, came home to visit his family just a couple of weeks ago.

- NZ SOLDIER BODY: The body of the New Zealand soldier killed in East Timor was mutilated so that his killers could claim a cash reward for his death, says a senior police officer who served in the troubled territory last year. The militiamen who killed Private Leonard Manning cut off his ears and slit his throat after he died.

- CONCORDE FAILURE: PARIS - A last-minute engine repair before take-off has emerged as the likely cause of the Concorde crash near Paris on Wednesday that killed 113 people and caused shockwaves around the world. Air France has revealed that the captain of the doomed Flight AF 4590, Christian Marty, a 54-year-old father of two, had insisted on the replacement of a faulty part in the reverse thruster of his number-two engine as the aircraft waited on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

- SAMUELS’ RECORD: Labour MP Dover Samuels yesterday admitted he had five convictions, including one for stealing a pillow when he was 19 that resulted in a jail term. He was angry that details about his past - including a separate conviction and three-year jail term for breaking and entering that was subsequently quashed - were reported on radio news yesterday.

- TAUPO COUPLE: A Taupo couple who abducted their 3 1/2-year-old daughter from welfare care are on the run in the central North Island. Mark Phillip Harris, aged 29, and Tania Tahi Maaka, 25, disappeared with their daughter, Mykayla, and 18-month-old son, Whai, from their Taupo home on June 4.

- WAIRAPA TODDLER: Someone tried to treat a Wairarapa toddler's horrific injuries before she was taken to hospital, police say. Hinewaoriki Karaitiana-Matiaha was pronounced dead on arrival at Masterton Hospital on Sunday night, having been sexually abused, scalded and beaten. Her injuries led to a homicide inquiry.

- SPORTS MODELS: The uniforms were Kiwi black; the faces were deepest red. Sydney-bound Olympians stripped off their sweaty training gear and slipped into the New Zealand team competition and casual wear yesterday.

- FALLING LOGS: A motorist killed by falling logs was trapped in his car and the Desert Rd was closed for several hours yesterday after the latest accident involving a logging truck. Huge logs flew off a southbound truck's trailer about 3 pm, crushing the northbound car and killing the driver, police say.

- BILLIONAIRE DOPE SMUGGLER The Herald's bid to reveal the identity of an American billionaire caught smuggling drugs into New Zealand reached the Court of Appeal in Wellington yesterday. The 66-year-old businessman's name will remain a mystery until a decision is made by a full bench of five Court of Appeal judges.

- STORMWATER SURGE; Peter Brough says a sudden torrent of water swept him to death's door, but the Lord sent him back. The self-employed contractor from Mangere said he was working with his son, Danny, in a stormwater pipe when a flash flood hit them.

- HASTINGS MURDER: Two days before Dennis Sandilands murdered Hastings security guard Hugh Mills, his sister begged police to take him into custody "where he couldn't hurt himself or others." The plea came in the form of a five-page letter to police, delivered by Jean Te Huia after Sandilands assaulted one of their sisters.

- CERVICAL INQUIRY: Millions of cervical smear slides taken from women in the past 10 years would have to be rescreened if health authorities wanted to prove there had been no serious cases of laboratory under-reporting, says an Australian expert. Dr Gabrielle Medley, director of the Victorian Cytology Service, yesterday gave evidence at a ministerial inquiry in Gisborne about her role as an advising pathologist in a Health Funding Authority review of 17 community laboratories.

- GORE TAKES AIM: CHICAGO - Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and his allies took aim at Dick Cheney yesterday, calling the Republican vice-presidential choice a staunch conservative on the wrong side of issues important to minorities. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson led the charge, criticising Cheney's "extreme views" on abortion and civil liberties, gun control and child health programmes.

- MIDDLE EAST LIMBO: JERUSALEM - Israelis and Palestinians are hanging in a political limbo as they await the next moves of their leaders after the collapse of the Camp David peace summit. Both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said they had not betrayed their bottom lines at talks aimed at settling a decades-old conflict over borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the future of Jewish settlements and the status of Jerusalem.

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