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New Zealand Herald

Reading Problems - New Prison - Teacher Resigns - NZ Competitiveness - Airfares Up - Weekend Road Toll - Todd In Showdown -- Lesbians & Fertility - Auckland Homeshow - Plants & Gold - Council Pay

READING PROBLEMS; Kelli Siakisini spent six years working in a warehouse hardly speaking to his workmates. He kept quiet to hide his difficulty with reading and understanding operating manuals and distribution sheets.

- NEW PRISON: Prisoners in the new Northland jail will enjoy unobstructed views from their terraced cellblocks of a "bubbling brook" running through the secure area. Some new inmates will also be greeted with a traditional Maori welcome ceremony.

- TEACHER RESIGNS: A primary schoolteacher who used magic wands, wishing stones and "fairy dust" to reward her 6-year-old pupils has resigned after complaints from parents. Parents and staff at Riverview Primary School in Kerikeri said yesterday that the teacher, Linda Stubbing, chopped up lavender and rosemary, called it fairy dust and sprinkled it around the classroom. She also made the children meditate and recite mantras.

- NZ COMPETITIVENESS: New Zealand's economic competitiveness has slipped to 20th in world rankings, dropping from 13th last year, according to a survey by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. The survey aims to predict rates of economic growth.

- AIRFARES UP: Economy airfares for New Zealand domestic passengers are on the rise again while the cost of flying within Australia plummets. Air New Zealand is scrapping its super-thrifty one-way fares from the end of the month. The decision comes days after the airline increased its full economy fares 7 per cent.

- WEEKEND ROAD TOLL: Eight people are dead and several others, including a 6-month-old baby, were in a critical condition last night after a disastrous weekend on the roads. Two of the fatalities occurred in Auckland.

- TODD IN SHOWDOWN: The first head-to-head showdown of these Olympics played out in a fitted-out warehouse on the outskirts of an industrial park. Mark Todd, double gold medallist and centre of controversy for 14 weeks, was in the same room as the international media.

- LESBIANS & FERTILITY: Infertile lesbians and single women nationwide will be entitled to state-paid fertility treatment under new rules about to be introduced. The Health Funding Authority will this month implement national guidelines on fertility services, which have just received a $3.7 million boost to remove inequalities and reach more people.

- AUCKLAND HOMESHOW: Aucklanders will have the best-looking homes in the country if all those who flocked to the 20th Auckland Home Show act on the ideas they pick up at the event. The five-day homes extravaganza - which claims to be the biggest show of its kind in Australasia - provided everything for building, furnishing, designing and decorating the home.

- PLANTS & GOLD: A New Zealand scientist has discovered how vegetables and other common plants can be used to "mine" gold. Chris Anderson of Massey University is attracting international attention for finding a chemical that makes gold soluble, allowing plants to "grab" the precious metal as they grow.

- COUNCIL PAY: Auckland City councillors are pocketing 40 per cent more in salaries and meeting and other allowances than a year ago. The 19 councillors and Mayor Christine Fletcher were paid $1.56 million in the last financial year, compared with $1.1 million the previous year.

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