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New Zealand Herald

Losing Streak Ends - Tauranga Recount - Northern Jobs - Hokianga Murders - Russian Adventurers - Prison Death - Auckland Wish-List - Smoking MP - Editorial: Auckland Minister

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LOSING STREAK ENDS:At last the country's Great Sporting Drought of 1999 has broken. The weekend brought a spate of international successes - Leilani Joyce's British Open squash title, the equestrian team's victory over the Australians and Greg Turner's triumph in the Australian PGA tournament.The only blot was the rugby world sevens series in South Africa, where the New Zealand team beat the hosts and Australia before losing 12-10 to Fiji in the final.

TAURANGA RECOUNT: Labour intends to make its own application today for a recount in Tauranga, suspecting the National Party is delaying to stop the new Government getting Parliament under way before the Christmas break. The Coalition cabinet meets for the first time this morning and hopes to hold the opening of Parliament next Monday. But MPs cannot be sworn in until all recounts are completed.

NORTHERN JOBS: The Government's regional development plans have gained an early boost with plans for between 100 and 200 new jobs in the economically depressed Far North. Information technology company Datacom will build a telephone call centre that could also be used as a data-processing centre.

HOKIANGA MURDERS:
1. A sad little convoy made its way from Rawene to Opotiki yesterday, carrying home the bodies of the two children killed in the stabbing incident on Friday, and their injured mother. Te Huia Hape was embraced by her extended family as she faced the burial of her children, Israel Smith, who was 3, and 11-month-old Keziah Smith.
2. Trevor Mokaraka moved to Rawene to live near his ancestors. Now he will lie among them. Mr Mokaraka died on Friday trying to help a Rawene mother, Te Huia Hape, escape from the house where her two children were killed.

RUSSIAN ADVENTURERS: The tinpot craft that carried two Russian adventurers to New Zealand was pulled from the water yesterday for the first time in its 10,000km voyage. And, not surprisingly, the hull of the 8m aluminium boat needs repairs. Boris Bainov and Renata Pavlenko landed at Huia after crossing the notorious Manukau Bar nearly three weeks ago and were taken into custody soon after by immigration officials.

PRISON DEATH: A Queen's counsel claims that Paremoremo guards knew a prisoner was about to start a blaze that killed him in his cell - and even gave him fuel. Auckland lawyer Peter Williams has accused guards of erasing videotapes after convicted killer William Annear torched himself in his cell on February 13 last year.

AUCKLAND WISH-LIST: Helen Clark and her colleagues will barely be seated behind their new desks this morning before facing a wish-list from Auckland leaders. The region's mayors wasted no time hitting what they believe is an Auckland-friendly Government with a five-point list of demands and challenges to solve the city's problems.

SMOKING MP: Rastafarian Nandor Tanczos says he will keep smoking pot as an MP - and he has the backing of the Greens leadership to flout the law. The 33-year-old Aucklander told the Herald yesterday that smoking cannabis was part of his religious culture and he was not about to give it up.


EDITORIAL - AUCKLAND MINISTER: New governments are prone to making grand gestures of good intent that quickly become forgotten in the grind of conventional concerns. This Government has made one such gesture with the assignment of a minister, Judith Tizard, to assist the Prime Minister on Auckland issues. Let's hope that after three years nobody is moved to ask: whatever happened to the minister for Auckland? It is unlikely; the next few years should see some action on Auckland's strained infrastructure with or without a helping hand in Wellington. But with the region's roads and public transport still partly reliant on national funds, a dedicated minister could do much to help. Witness the problem lately over a North Shore busway, part of the region's overall transport plan. A bus priority lane on the shoulder of the Northern Motorway largely exists now. But the complete scheme, with park-and-ride transfer stations and sundry improvements, has had difficulty satisfying the cost-benefit test of the Government's subsidising arm, Transfund.

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