Operation Ark: Inside NZ's $50m designer drug ring

This is a story about science experiments and a cast of colourful characters playing a risky game of cat-and-mouse with New Zealand's drug laws.
A story of "protection" money, clandestine meetings and bugged Skype conversations.
Of boxes of cash stacked in the lounge of a pensioner's home in the North Shore, later laundered through companies in Hong Kong and Thailand.
Money made from "designer drug" pills. Millions and millions of pills.

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A baby is a miracle

And this little gurgling helpless bundle, the book says, will one day crawl and talk, but really how will that ever happen? And then she is warbling and burbling and it's the prettiest trilling and gargling of random syllables and then she is crawling and she is walking and she is talking and you move through it all like a car through fog, forgetting how different things were just days and weeks before, and it is happening at jet speed but it is also like tunneling to Australia with a teaspoon, and you think this particularly as you stand behind her in a swing, pushing, again and again and again. 

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Shortland Street: The short life and tragic death of Neville Goodwin

Neville doesn't have a name yet. He barely exists. He's just a difficult patient who'll have his morphine nicked by Deb, then die at her hands. (As Fleming says, "Everyone loves a killer nurse.")
What if, says medical adviser Caroline Restall, "the patient's so irascible that he scratches Mo, and Deb fixes Mo up?" (This is cunning, as it simultaneously serves the Deb-Mo storyline.)
Fleming: "Yeah, that's sweet."
Trainee storyliner Lily Daubney: "Can he have Alzheimers as well?"
Fleming: "I don't think we need that."

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NZ needs to plant more trees to combat climate change – but what kind and where?

The deluge of logging waste at Loudon farm points to a massive weakness in the country’s plantation forestry system. The so-called “window of vulnerability” is a period of about six years after a radiata crop has been clear-felled, during which the land lies raw, unprotected and at the mercy of rainstorms and cyclones.

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Finding Mrs Moreland

After a few moments, the jets started shooting out from the craft again. It tilted at an angle and then shot up into the sky at great speed. As it retreated behind the clouds it made a soft, high-pitched whine.
Then she was alone. Standing in a waft of hot peppery air. She was relieved that the attracting power of the green lights had gone, but didn’t know what to do next. Eventually, she finished milking the cows.

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A Dunedin Study discovery saved an American killer from the death penalty

Waldroup’s lawyers argued that the sluggish version of the gene had combined with his history of suffering child abuse to explosive effect. The gene wasn’t the only factor the jury considered, but it clearly persuaded some of them he wasn’t equipped to weigh up a premeditated murder.
As one juror later said to National Public Radio: “Something in [Waldroup] doesn’t tick right … A bad gene is a bad gene.”

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Money markets and global leaders (except Trump) front up to climate change

When it came to climate change and the potential global supply of fossil fuels, “nobody had done the maths”, Campanale tells the Listener. But the new research on the total carbon budget made it possible to run the calculations. With financial backing from philanthropists, Carbon Tracker was able to hire the analytical brainpower needed to go through the published reserves of the world’s biggest publicly listed oil, coal and gas companies and figure out how much of those reserves could be burnt while remaining within the global carbon budget.

The conclusion was stunning: the world’s fossil-fuel companies owned reserves which, if burnt, would dump 2795 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, but the carbon budget showed there was room for only a further 565 gigatonnes.

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What really goes on in Auckland's clubs

Charisma, spunk, being willing to say what you think: these are the qualities Barton identifies as the common traits of Auckland's leading party people and they are qualities he embodied that night. But then again, sometime either a bit before or a bit after the booth-dancing and the bottle-swigging, through sad eyes that were increasingly squinty, he looked at me seriously and said, "This is my job."

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The fire inside: eating at Auckland’s most remarkable restaurant

 From day to day and week to week things change: the quality of the flour, the weather, and sometimes it doesn’t rise, or doesn’t rise to Ed’s satisfaction. “A bad bread day is the worst ever. When I pull out pancakes from the oven, those are the days I hate my life.”

Laura said, “If we’re not entirely happy we say, ‘Here, just have it.’ The customers say, ‘Oh no, we don’t mind paying, we can’t tell the difference!’ But we can.”

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The hunting of the Snipe

Snipe are not one of the stars of New Zealand’s pantheon of threatened birds. Small, speckled brown, with a long probing beak like a kiwi, they look like a wading bird that’s gone bush. Their eyes seem set too far back in their heads, giving them a dopey expression. Perfect rat-bait, they’ve long been gone from the mainland, and most New Zealanders have never seen one.

But the story of snipe is one of tragedy and mystery, miraculous resurrection and myth. Almost flightless by day, the snipe’s terrifying alter-ego, the hākawai, haunts the night sky. Catching them involves prancing through the scrub with a butterfly net.

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Broken bad: A country in the grip of meth

He was a ‘P baby’, born to Pam’s daughter, who used heavily throughout her pregnancy.

Pam brought him home from the hospital when he was a 1.8kg (4lb) newborn with a cleft palate and a cleft lip. When he wasn't asleep – which was most of the time – he screamed.

Pam's daughter was in the mental health ward and unmoved by the baby’s pitiful condition. "Shit happens," she said, according to Pam.

Tears roll from Pam’s eyes.

"There's no hope for her. She's fried her brain. You can tell from her speech. She was a beautiful, brainy young woman.”

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Ready to rumble

“Heremaia has “f**k the police” tattooed on his six pack abs and “f**k the world on his lower back. A felt pen has been used to cover the potentially offensive tats, but it smears off in his sweat. Higgins says, “pound for pound”, he’s the best fighter in the country, even though he has his win over Lee Oti controversially overturned. It’s unlikely that’s the first disappointment in Heremaia’s life.”

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BAIT Expectations

“She lives in an isolated village with no shop, on the lip of an unforgiving ocean and her favourite sport is fishing. She is different, like her characters. But is she really a recluse? “I think people have conflated the facts that I live by myself most of the time and enjoy my solitude, and made it equal ‘recluse’.”

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The life that Nicky built: Who is the real Nicky Hager?

Some years when he's working on a book, he says, his income is more or less zero.

Looked at throughnink the prism of the harsh and uncertain economic realities of a solo father, Hager's whole project could be viewed as an ongoing series of leaps of faith, in which every time he has started a book, he's been at risk of being ended, economically speaking.

"I see it differently," he says. "I think, 'I've only got one life.' I mean, you know: Who wants to be old and regret what they did with their life?"

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A level playing field

Weatherly's sudden arrival on the women's downhill scene in January came as a surprise to some in mountain biking - until the end of last year she'd been known as Anton and raced men.

She'd quietly let a few of the other women know she was making the switch and they seemed supportive. But when she won an event in Rotorua by more than 30 seconds, it set off a firestorm of online discussion and calls for her to be excluded.

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The priest with a patch

He crosses the road and strays to the edge of the path, as he has done several times before. His heart starts thumping and he turns around before someone sees him. Walking through the door is scary, so Greg retreats to the comfort of the Mob pad. He takes an empty Waikato Draught from the crate and uses it to crack open another full one.

He takes a swig. Maybe next week, he says to himself.

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At the edge of a new land

Once stacked on the footpath, the worldly possessions of a dozen people didn’t look like much, and it didn’t take long for the pot-bellied driver with a bluetooth earpiece to load the luggage compartment of the chartered bus. Hibbah was feeling happy, if a little overwhelmed. The sign on the rear of the bus said: “We hope you will love New Zealand as much as we do”.

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