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Sunday Stories 2005

Published: 2:39PM Wednesday March 08, 2006

Here are some of our stories from 2005

Divine Laws
- 17 April 2005

Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws was elected with a large majority but five months down the track he is a mayor under attack. Its Laws mouth and his attitude that has got him into a full on and very nasty public slanging match in Wanganui. But Laws is having none of it."I don't give a rat's proverbial whether people don't like me, or they criticise me, or they say there is something wrong with my personality or anything like that," says Laws.  He can be outrageously funny, but if you are the butt of his pungent prose it can be hard to take.

Now six ratepayers have charged the mayor with bringing the city into disrepute with his insulting and derogatory comments. The critics tried to have the mayor censured by the council under its own code of conduct. But Laws says they won't succeed. "This is stupidity. I guess the problem with stupidity is you've got to give it its head sometimes. You know this is politics, this isn't the real world," says Laws.

And even while his councillors considered the complaints, Laws was his old defiant, unrepentant self.  "I'm not going to change," says Laws.

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Fabius was forced to apologise to New Zealand after French secret service agents bombed the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland on July 10, 1985.

The boat had been docked in Auckland harbour while Greenpeace prepared for a protest voyage to the nuclear test site at Moruroa Atoll.

According to a police report two high explosive devices attached to the hull of the Rainbow Warrior detonated within the space of a few minutes shortly before midnight. It is thought the devices had been attached to the hull some time before. The force of the explosion blew a hole 2.5 metres in size below the waterline at the engine room and the vessel sank within minutes.

Two days after the bombing the French Embassy in Wellington issued a statement denying any involvement.

But within days police had arrested French secret service agents Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur as they tried to return their van to an Auckland hire company.

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Aerosol Terrorist - 16 October 2005

To most people graffiti is vandalism, but to those who practice it, it is art.
Sunday went out with a graffiti crew, who wish to remain nameless and faceless, and filmed them in action.

The graffiti practitioners' canvas is the entire city, particularly rail corridors that provide cover from the law and offer a guaranteed audience via train passengers. "I don't know how you could get pissed off with what we are doing here. There's a wall here covered in tags and we're painting pieces over it," says one of the crew members filmed by Sunday..

But Rob Shields is a former cop charged with cleaning up Auckland and like a lot of people hates what he calls graffiti vandalism. "The difference between graffiti art and graffiti vandalism is permission and if you want to keep destroying our city we're going to come after you and catch you," says Shields.f we just leave it, it will destroy the whole city... it will be covered in graffiti." And in a climate of zero tolerance for graffiti Rob Shields is watching.

"It's anti social behaviour... it's lowering property values, it's upsetting people, compromising their sense of personal security," says Shields.

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Bullet Proof - 30 Oct 2005

The case of John Barlow, who after three trials was convicted of a brutal double murder, is one of the most troubling of the past decade and Sunday reveals there are serious flaws in the evidence that finally helped convict him.

On February 16, 1994, Wellington financiers Eugene Thomas and his son Gene were shot to death in their office. John Barlow was the main suspect, but it would take three trials and a court of appeal hearing before he was convicted.

A critical difference with the third trial was forensic evidence from the most famous investigation bureau in the world which linked Barlow to the murders. But now the basis for that FBI testimony has been seriously discredited.

Sunday has revisited the Barlow case and a parallel case in America.

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Taking the P out of Paradise - 06 November 2005

Sunday takes an exclusive behind the scenes look at how New Zealand police helped crack the biggest drug factory in the southern hemisphere.

A factory built by some of the most feared names in world organised crime was smashed by police and customs from Hong Kong to New Zealand.

The drug is being blamed for murders, stabbings and nearly 50% of all New Zealand's high court appearances. Purified methamphetamine, P or ice, is the new public enemy number one and it was being brewed in billion dollar quantities in New Zealand's back yard.

Sunday takes a rare look at how a Chinese triad gang tried to set up one of the biggest illegal drug operations in the world in the Pacific paradise of Fiji. It was meant to be their billion dollar baby - an ice factory churning out enough methamphetamine to cook the brains of every P-user in New Zealand, Australia and half of Europe.

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Sunken Treasure - 20 November 2005

Last weekend the frigate Wellington was sunk off the south coast of the Wellington to become a reef for divers, but it's been a long journey to the bottom of the sea. The frigate Wellington, once the pride of the British and New Zealand navies, is soon to be the capital's latest tourist attraction.

Her reprieve came in the form of one man, Marco Zeeman, a Wellington engineer and entrepreneur.  Zeeman, as you'll soon realise, is an ideas man, and this was his idea for the old warship. He reckoned he could bring Wellington, the frigate, to Wellington, the city, sink it off the rugged south coast and turn it into a reef for divers.

But not all locals are as excited as Zeeman at the prospect of having a frigate in their backyard.  "It sets a terrible precedent for any marine reserve, if they let them sink a pile of junk in it," says Nick Dryden.  "We do get 14 metre swells out here at least 3 or 4 times a year, and this five storey tin-can is going to be 4 metres under the surface proudly facing into the waves. I mean how long can it possibly survive?"

Zeeman disagrees, saying once they hit the seabed, they stay where they are. "Evidence around New Zealand, and we've got hundreds of old shipwrecks that have slowly disappeared into the sand, and that's what they do, they go downwards not outwards," he says.

But all resistance has been futile, Wellington's home and is officially open to the public. She's now put to work as a floating museum.

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GI Jane - 11 December 2005

If a person is under the age of 14 they can't be called a criminal - unless it's a heinous crime.  That may be the way of the law, but it's not the way of a Bay of Plenty grandmother whose home was burgled last month.

Fifty-two-year-old grandmother Jane Poe lives in Papamoa where there has been a spate of burglaries by young thieves. Last month they picked Jane's house and she took the law into her own hands. "Bloody oath I did... I did what any normal person would do... who's had their whanau and mokos hurt the way, and robbed and trashed," says Jane.

The usually poised disability assessor for Bay of Plenty health, took to the street. The police had been called, but Jane was not prepared to wait. She was after names, sightings, suspects.  "As fate may have it, who should come around the corner from the kohanga reo...was these four kids, and I knew it, it was gut instinct... I knew these were the kids. I said did you bastards rob my bloody house or not," says Jane.

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Dying for a Tan  - 18 December 2005

Doctors are increasingly alarmed that the sun safety message still isn't getting through especially to young people - the danger age for skin cancer. Skin cancer kills nearly 300 New Zealanders each year - right up there with the road toll. A further 67,000 new cases of suspected skin cancer are treated each year, including 1,800 new cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

The statistics defy years of warnings from the likes of the Cancer Society to cover up and keep unprotected skin out of the sun, especially in the middle of the day.

For many people the message simply isn't getting through, especially teenagers and young adults. Those who deal with the results of sun abuse say it's an epidemic New Zealand has got to get to grips with.

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