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New Zealand Herald

Pyramid Scheme - Bus Use - Drummer Accused - Singapore Trade - Casino Licence - Tvnz-Sky Deal - Winz Building Sick - Maori Pendant Id - Parole Board Hearings - Drug Abusing Students

PYRAMID SCHEME: A nationwide pyramid selling scheme has been shut by authorities, owing more than $3 million to 12,000 people. Victims of the Tauranga-based operation, known as Maximus Intermediaries, are unlikely to get any of their money back, despite the seizure of $447,000 in gemstones and $340,000 in cash in bank accounts.

- BUS USE: Petrol price hikes are driving city motorists off the roads and on to public transport.
Transit New Zealand says the number of cars on Auckland motorways has dropped about 2000 a day and one bus company says patronage is up between 4 and 5 per cent.

- DRUMMER ACCUSED: He transformed himself from a long-haired drummer in a New Zealand rock band into a police officer with one of the most dangerous beats in Australia. Now Reuben Sakey stands accused of murder, his new career in tatters.

- SINGAPORE TRADE: Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition leader Jenny Shipley have found a face-saving way for National to back the free trade agreement with Singapore. The leaders met in the Prime Minister's office yesterday to nut out the process, which would leave untouched a Treaty of Waitangi clause National had insisted should be changed.

- CASINO LICENCE: Sky City Casino seems likely to keep its licence, despite an allegation that it covered up the extent of a racket in its staff cafeteria. Tauranga MP Winston Peters told Parliament yesterday that 89 Sky City employees had either admitted or been found guilty of dishonesty offences or had been found on surveillance tapes to have acted dishonestly.

- TVNZ-SKY DEAL: A deal to put TVNZ on Sky's digital service is close to being signed by the competing television companies, it was claimed yesterday. National MP Murray McCully said the agreement would reduce TVNZ's market position and wipe millions off the broadcaster's value.

- WINZ BUILDING SICK: Hair loss, skin disorders and respiratory problems suffered by South Auckland Winz staff have forced the closure of their sick building. The Otara office of Winz (Work and Income New Zealand) in Lovegrove Cres will be closed early next week after seven staff displayed symptoms associated with the fungus stachybotrys, which was found in the building.

- MAORI PENDANT ID: Police officers who have launched a murder inquiry after the discovery of a decaying body in the Waitakere Ranges hope that a distinctive Maori pendant found around the man's neck will help to identify him. Detectives said yesterday that the body, found by a woman walking her dog on Tuesday, was not that of murder suspect Keith London, as initially thought. They said it was a coincidence that the body was found just 1km from where London was last seen after allegedly shooting his partner, Alison Aris, and going bush in June.

- PAROLE BOARD HEARINGS: The families of two Auckland murder victims are fighting to make Parole Board hearings public as part of a campaign to keep killers and rapists locked up longer. The families and friends of Kylie Jones, and Karen Stanley-Hunt who was brutally murdered in 1998, want the public to be told who is up for parole and when.
Karen Stanley-Hunt's

- DRUG ABUSING STUDENTS: Drug-abusing Northland pupils are being suspended at twice the rate of students in other parts of the country. Northland principals say easy access to marijuana, high unemployment and a higher proportion of Maori students are all contributing factors.

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