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New Zealand Herald

Auckland Growth - Soggy Hobbits - Suicide - Winter Bugs At Zoo - Henare - Child Neglect - Tuhoe - Floods - Christian Feud - Hunger Strike - Auckland Campaign - Party Hopping - Editorial: Transport

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AUCKLAND GROWTH: Auckland faces a shortfall of nearly 200,000 houses and billions of dollars for roads and utility services as it heads into the new millennium. But the Auckland Regional Growth Forum hopes that the daunting challenges can be overcome through a rare level of cooperation and new funding sources. The grand plan it launched yesterday to manage Auckland's development, the Regional Growth Strategy, points to big effects on lifestyle and enormous costs if the city, responsible for a third of the country's economic output, is to continue to prosper.

SOGGY HOBBITS: A Lord Of The Rings film set has been washed away by floodwater near Queenstown. About 400 crew and cast have been filming the $360 million film trilogy near Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau for the past 10 days and will be in the area until Christmas. Producer Tim Sanders said yesterday that filming was delayed in some locations because of flooding and bad weather.

SUICIDE: The Privacy Commissioner, Bruce Slane, says Doug Kidd is wrong to blame youth suicides on the Privacy Act. Mr Kidd, who is Kaikoura MP and Parliament's Speaker, had raised the issue at an election meeting in Seddon.

WINTER BUGS: When New Zealanders sneeze, so do the apes at Auckland Zoo. As flu hit the country over winter, most of the zoo's chimpanzees and several orang-utans developed the symptoms, catching the virus from visitors or staff. Curator Stephen Standley said the flu bug was never isolated from the chimpanzees but apes were known to contract diseases from humans.

HENARE: The Ngati Hine tribe should sue the Government over the sale of land for the Opua marina, Tau Henare is reported to have told a hui at Te Tii Marae on Saturday. The hui organiser, Ngapuhi leader Kingi Taurua, said yesterday that 200 people had turned out to hear Mr Henare, who is Minister of Maori Affairs and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, and Matauri Bay list MP Dover Samuels "come clean" over their involvement in the 240-berth marina, which was the site of a protest occupation last month.

CHILD NEGLECT: Nearly half the abuse and neglect complaints to the Department of Child, Youth and Family last year did not stack up, the department's statistics show. The number of allegations not upheld after investigation increased from 33.3 per cent in 1997-98, when it carried out 15,106 investigations, to 46.6 per cent last year (20,455 investigations).

TUHOE CD: Wharehuia Milroy was scribbling notes in the dark more than 30 years ago as he listened to his elders recount Tuhoe legends, songs and lore. The venue was Maungapohatu, a remote village in the Urewera country and spiritual home of the eastern Bay of Plenty tribe.

FLOODS: The sodden headwaters of Lakes Wakatipu and Wanaka are due for another burst of rain. A special advisory issued by the MetService late yesterday forecast a cold front moving on to Fiordland tonight with heavy rain in the mountains but only light falls in flood-ravaged Queenstown.

CHRISTIAN FEUD: A political feud has broken out between the two Christian parties, with Christian Heritage accused of stooping to dirty tricks. Future New Zealand, the former Christian Democrats, says it is appalled by a series of advertisements produced by a group with links to Christian Heritage purporting to set out party positions on abortion.

HUNGER STRIKE: Immigration Minister Tuariki Delamere paid a private visit to fasting asylum-seekers at Mt Eden Prison yesterday to check on their condition for himself. Mr Delamere did not speak to the prisoners during the unannounced visit.

AUCKLAND CAMPAIGN: Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark yesterday got down to some serious wooing in Auckland, where Saturday's election could be won or lost. The Prime Minister and the Labour leader were guests at the unveiling of the region's plans for coping with population growth and pressure on roading, transport and other services.

PARTY HOPPING: The National Party is likely to offer voters the chance to ban MPs from party hopping as part of its promised referendums on MMP. The Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, has rejected Labour's approach, which would see anti-defection legislation brought before Parliament as soon as possible after the election.

EDITORIAL - TRANSPORT: This time something is going to happen for Auckland. That could not be said with any confidence of past plans to move the largest numbers of Aucklanders in the shortest possible time. The plans are not so very different now but the problem and the means to a solution are more apparent. Urban growth and transport strategies - confirmed by leaders of regional, city and district councils yesterday - are the blueprint for a different sort of Auckland. Rather than the low-density, leafy suburbs sprawling along the coastline and connected by motorways, regional planners envisage a corset containing the city largely within present limits. More significantly, they want high-density residential development along "corridors" for public transport, especially where paths might cross or major terminals might be established.

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