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New Zealand Herald

Homicide Inquiry - Goldie Stolen - Todd Outburst - Maori Crashes - Transrail Death Rate - Big Time Rugby - Travel Company Collapse - Dog Attack - Police Informant Pay

HOMICIDE INQUIRY: A man written off as a missing person four years ago may have been murdered during a bungled drug deal in rugged bush south of Auckland. Detectives yesterday launched a murder inquiry into the disappearance of 26-year-old Aucklander Jason Raymond Kearney, who vanished in the Hunua Ranges on Saturday, August 17, 1996.

- GOLDIE STOLEN: Well-organised thieves took only seconds to disable a security camera and wrench a treasured Charles Goldie painting from a wall in the Auckland Museum yesterday. The lightning-fast robbery was over and the painting gone before museum staff realised anything had happened.

- TODD OUTBURST: Olympic authorities have dismissed a burst of outrage from the Deputy Prime Minister over the Mark Todd issue as the equivalent of somebody ringing radio talkback. But Jim Anderton's criticism of Todd and the NZ Olympic Committee yesterday was the highest-level tongue-lashing since the drug scandal blew up.

- MAORI CRASHES: Maori and Pacific Islanders are three times more likely to need hospital treatment after a road crash than Europeans. Road safety experts put the finding in the Land Transport Safety Authority's travel survey down to a number of socio-economic factors.

- TRANSRAIL DEATH RATE: The death rate for Tranz Rail workers was at the upper level of an international comparison, the ministerial inquiry into the company's safety record was told yesterday. The Land Transport Safety Authority's general manager for policy, Alan Woodside, said Tranz Rail had three workplace deaths a year from 1996 until 1998.

- BIG TIME RUGBY: The crowd waiting on the wharf at Matiatia on Waiheke Island fell silent as the crowing voice commanded attention. "Excuse me, all you Auckland people," it said. "We're from Christchurch. How do you feel now?"

- TRAVEL COMPANY COLLAPSE: The collapse of an Auckland-based adventure travel company has brought warnings for would-be travellers to be extremely careful when buying travel insurance. Several people who booked holidays through travel wholesaler Sun Travel have been told they may have to pay twice, because their insurance does not cover the possibility of a wholesaler collapsing.

- DOG ATTACK: The Rotorua youngster attacked by two dogs has returned home from hospital and now has a tough decision to make - a trip to Disneyland or 10 days of sun, sand and rollercoasters on Australia's Gold Coast. The dilemma has delighted Jarrod, aged 8, who has been offered the choice by the Koru Care charitable trust, who whisk away terminally ill children and those who have suffered major traumas to the holiday spots each year.

- POLICE INFORMANT PAY: Police paid more than $1.5 million to informants in the past five years. The figure was revealed in response to an Official Information Act request. In the past financial year, police paid $302,920; in 1998-99, $251,969; in 1997-98, $355,422; in 1996-97, $266,029; and in 1995-96, $358,397.

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