National News Brief, Tuesday January 20

MP wades into West Auckland mall brawl; Graduates keep studying rather than risk job market; helicopter rules put patients in danger; Christchurch City wants more sewage in its rivers; and more

The New Zealand Herald leads with the tale of how Social Development minister Paula Bennett stopped a fight involving about 30 young people at a Henderson mall on Saturday afternoon. The MP was concerned someone would get hurt, so says she "leaped in" to the crowd to stop the fight between four or five mostly female teenagers. The intervention by the "tough lady" has been praised by local shop owners and mayor Bob Harvey.

The paper also carries a front-page story reporting a 24 percent rise in applications for post-graduate study at Auckland University. Deputy vice-chancellor Raewyn Dalziel claims people are upskilling rather than enetering the tough job market, saying it's "something that people do in a recession". Unitec says applications to enrol are up 20 percent, while the Auckland University of Technology and Manukau Institute of Technology are also seeing a rise in enrolments this year.

Rescue helicopter operators are fighting rules that could stop them flying non-critical patients to hospital heli-pads, the DominionPost reports. Most rescue helicopters are single engine aircraft and under aviation law aren't permitted to fly in built-up areas unless it's a life and death emergency. The Civil Aviation Authority is pressuring pilots who have been flouting the law, but the helicopter operators say flying patients to airports for ambulance pick-ups would delay treatment and the $2m price tag for twin-engine aircraft would have to be paid for by DHBs.

Entrepreneur Lloyd Morrison has been diagnosed with leukaemia, The DomPost also reports on its front page. The 51 year-old, Palmerston North-born CEO of infrastructure company Infratil has stepped down from leading the company and from his directorships on various boards while he undergoes treatment.

The Christchurch City Council is struggling to stop overflows of untreated sewage entering the Avon and Heathcote rivers, so is asking for discharge laws to be relaxed. The council wants the right to discharge sewage into the rivers every six months rather than every two years, but environmentalists, Maori and boaties are appalled by the move.

Despite being arrested three times last year, All Black halfback Jimmy Cowan has been named captain of the Otago Highlanders this season. The Otago Daily Times' lead story quotes Cowan saying this troubles last year have made him "wake up to where I was going in life" and that he was not drinking now the rugby season had started.