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East Timor – Piha Drownings – Mehrtens Injury – Teenage Death – Youth Suicide – Coromandel – Green Launch – Psychotic Drugs –Auckland Roads – Halloween – Home Invasion x 2 – Wallet Miracle - America’s Cup x 2 and Editorial

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EAST TIMOR: New Zealand soldiers in East Timor will be integrated into a special United Nations mission numbering nearly 11,000 early next year. The Security Council is set today to authorise the deployment of UN troops, military observers and police to shepherd the devastated territory to independence in two to three years.

PIHA DROWNINGS: Two fathers drowned trying to rescue their daughters from pounding surf at Piha yesterday in a tragic start to the surf lifesaving season. The girls, aged around 11 and 12, made it safely to shore. Peter Graham Mavakla, aged 42, and his close friend Michael Valcarel, 40, raced into the sea when they noticed their daughters in trouble on their bodyboards around 4.20 in the afternoon.

MEHRTENS INJURY: As rugby injuries go, they don't come more worrying than this. Andrew Mehrtens took a bang on the knee yesterday and the rugby public felt the impact on the All Blacks' quest for World Cup glory. Team officials remained optimistic that their most important player and champion points scorer had suffered no more than bruising in the quarter-final 30-18 win against Scotland and would recover for the semifinal clash with France.

TEENAGE DEATH: Nineteen-year-old Rina-Lee Vaha'akolo loved the good times - but her final weekend of partying led to her death on Mangere Mountain. The Otara teenager collapsed and died at a youngsters' hang-out in Mangere Bridge Domain after several hours' drinking with others on Sunday night.

YOUTH SUICIDE: Young survivors of suicide attempts are to be asked to explain why they took such drastic action. The request, part of a new youth suicide study, will be made by researchers from the Injury Prevention Research Centre at Auckland University.

COROMANDEL: Labour's Coromandel candidate, Margaret Hawkeswood, warned last night that she would contemplate leaving her party if told to tone down her campaign so the Greens could win the seat. However, she did not expect the Labour hierarchy to issue such instructions and she remained a serious contender. She believed Labour was committed to winning the seat and that the Greens would lose.

GREEN LAUNCH: The Greens toasted themselves with organic wine yesterday as the party written off a year ago as "political compost" jubilantly acknowledged its comeback. Those at the campaign launch at Auckland's Marine Rescue Centre were high-spirited over a signal by Labour leader Helen Clark that Labour voters should back Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons in the pivotal Coromandel seat.

PSYCHOTIC DRUGS: Psychiatric patients are being deprived of access to new-style anti-psychotic drugs they have been prescribed because of Government funding constraints. Dr Allan Taylor, an Auckland Healthcare psychiatrist, said last night that four patients with a history of violence or self-harm were responding to treatment with Olanzapine. They suffered from schizophrenia or the related condition, schizo-affective disorder.

AUCKLAND ROADS: Yesterday's holiday weekend crawl back to Auckland should be the last, with the completion of several roading projects before Christmas. Labour Day motorists who experienced traffic delays of an hour or more at Orewa and Silverdale yesterday will welcome the opening of the first stage of the Northern Motorway extension, just before the summer rush.

HALLOWEEN: Trick or treat? Hallowe'en has come early for the main parties, now transfixed by the sound of Winston Peters knocking on the door and the nightmare of negotiating with New Zealand First. The prospect of his party again holding the balance of power is haunting the hustings before Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark even launch their campaigns next Sunday.

HOME INVASION: A late-night request from a woman who asked to use the toilet turned into a terrifying home invasion for a Hamilton man. The stranger knocked on the door of the man's Seddon Rd flat at 11 pm on Sunday. When the 45-year-old opened the door, another woman and two men appeared, one of them carrying a gun.

WALLET MIRACLE: A West Australian tourist watched helplessly last month as his cash-laden wallet fell from his pocket into the murky depths of Milford Sound. Now, to his amazement, his wallet has been returned to him. Milford Sound Red Boats assistant manager Nick Gray had picked it up a week after the accident while beachcombing on a foreshore - 9km from where it fell into the 300m-deep water.

AMERICA’S CUP: They came on foot, on skates, on bikes, in prams - in their many tens of thousands. A record 142,753 people passed through the American Express NZ Cup Village over Labour Day Weekend, 2000 more than during the whole of last week. Around them wafted the smell of seaweed and the clatter of cafes; below, fancy yachts bowed on their moorings for inspection as the tide bottomed out, their masts reaching up into the blue sky.

HOME INVASION: A South Auckland woman wounded in a vicious weekend home invasion has such badly swollen eyes she cannot identify items from her home for police. Lorraine McEwen, aged 56, and Robert Rogers, 54, suffered horrific head injuries when intruders raided Mrs McEwen's Manurewa home on Saturday.

AMERICA’S CUP – EDITORIAL: Their cup runneth over. Restaurateurs, that is, who are enjoying a bonanza as Aucklanders and tourists alike flock to the dozens of new eateries and bars in the Viaduct Basin. Unfortunately, for some of the visitors, tea, coffee or other refreshments runneth into their cups or glasses only after a long and exasperating wait. Tables are full but business - from the customer perspective at least - is sometimes far from brisk. Probably we should not be surprised. The creation of some 2500 new restaurant seats in Auckland, aimed squarely at the America's Cup, Apec and millennium celebrations, was always going to put a strain on staffing resources. The Immigration Service claims that it warned the New Zealand Restaurant Association fully three years ago of a looming crisis. By the time restaurateurs had acknowledged the scope of the problem, it was, the department says, too late. Certainly, it has not helped that dozens of trained staff are simultaneously being lured to Sydney by higher wages as that city gears up for the Olympics.


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