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New Zealand Herald

Christmas House - GDP - Insider Trading - Deportee Arrives Back - Prison Christmas - Hunger Strikers - Cannabis - Christmas Triplets - Kaipara Rescue - Brian Edwards

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CHRISTMAS HOUSE: If you head out to West Auckland tonight, you're sure of a big surprise. For in a modest Te Atatu street, Wendy and Paul Lester have turned on some Christmas magic for everyone to share. Their house is a blaze of Christmas lights and a riot of electrically powered action - a brilliant vision from a child's fairytale.

GDP: The economy grew 2.3 per cent in the September quarter, increasing the risk of interest rate rises and prompting a warning that the pattern of growth is unhealthy and unstable. The quarterly jump in gross domestic product (GDP) follows a contraction of 0.3 per cent in the June quarter.

INSIDER TRADING: Brokers want a full inquiry into the trading of Fletcher Challenge shares earlier this month, following the resignation of chairman Kerry Hoggard over an embarrassing share deal. Some spoken to are writing to the Stock Exchange seeking a full inquiry. Mr Hoggard shocked the close-knit business community yesterday when he stepped down over a breach of share-trading regulations.

DEPORTEE ARRIVES BACK: When illegal immigrant Alexander Tishkovets was deported from New Zealand 10 days ago, he vowed to return - and he has. Mr Tishkovets, who says he is fleeing religious and racial persecution in his native Tajikistan, has taken an eventful route back to Auckland, travelling via Germany, Singapore and Russia.

PRISON CHRISTMAS: A church minister will spend Christmas safe in the knowledge that a woman who repeatedly threatened to kill him is locked up in jail. But his anxiety will remain until the courts finally decide how to deal with the thorny issue of sentencing Ruby Frances Lamb.

HUNGER STRIKERS: Freedom for 16 hunger-striking asylum-seekers released from Mt Eden Prison this month means tucking in when you want - almost. For three of the Muslim men whose 32-day hunger strike ended in a successful legal challenge, the religious festival of Ramadan means they can eat only after sunset.

CANNABIS: A Government staff member and a journalist are under investigation after being found in Parliament's debating chamber with a smell of cannabis in the air.

CHRISTMAS TRIPLETS: Rohan and Jacqueline Samaratunga had tried unsuccessfully for years to have children - so they could hardly believe their luck when they had triplets in time for Christmas. Mrs Samaratunga despaired when medical difficulties were identified after the birth of her son in 1992. When she became pregnant this year, her doctor held out little hope of three babies surviving.

KAIPARA RESCUE: Just a few days into his new career in the police, Dane Basham was already a hero. The keen constable was assigned to guard a Helensville crime scene alone at midnight on April 6, but instead ended up diving into the deep, cold and dangerous Kaipara Harbour on an outgoing tide to save a 57-year-old woman.

BRIAN EDWARDS: Radio New Zealand has misjudged deep public feeling for the Top o' the Morning show and should reconsider its decision to axe it, says host Brian Edwards. The show has been dumped by Radio New Zealand chief executive Sharon Crosbie for being "dull and predictable."

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