National News Brief, Wednesday December 17

Government defies Fijian ultimatum; Corrections predicts four new prisons will be needed; Chris Kahui speaks out; teens happier but exposed to more violence, World Cup ticket prices revealed; and more

The diplomatic row between New Zealand and Fiji has intensified, with the National-led government defying an ultimatum from Fiji to relax travel sanctions. Self-appointed Prime Minister Vorqe (Frank) Bainimarama said last week that he would expel the New Zealand High Commissioner unless the son of a senior public official was allowed to resume his studies at Massey University, but yesterday Foreign Minister Murray McCully told Cdre Bainimarama New Zealand would not budge, the Otago Daily Times reports. Meanwhile, the Fijian government is now placing restrictions on all foreign media entering the country after TVNZ's Barbara Dreaver was detained and then deported from the country.

Up to four new prisons and hundreds more staff will be needed due to the government's new law and order policies. The DominionPost leads with the Correction Department's briefing to new minister Judith Collins, which says community and probation staff are already struggling and the prison population will grow beyond capacity within 18 months. It estimates a "daunting" 2200 new beds will be needed in the next eight years.

The Press leads with the Health and Disability Commissioner's report blaming overcrowding and a lack of staff for the death of 25 year-old Dean Carroll, who died after being sent home from Christchurch Hospital last year. The junior doctor who failed to diagnose Carroll's rare spinal abscess was cleared in the report, which blamed the District Health Board. Carroll's case was one of five cases the commissioner reported on yesterday, the New Zealand Herald says, three of which involved overcrowding in emergency departments.

A major new academic survey of about 10,000 high school students has found that compared to 2001 they are smoking tobacco and cannabis less, are eating more nutritious food, and have fewer depressive or suicidal thoughts. However, a quarter of the girls surveyed say they have harmed themselves in the past year and a quarter of the boys have been in a serious physical fight, the DomPost reports. A third were overweight and 17 percent said they had seen adults hurting children in their home.

In his first interview, Chris Kahui, the man accused and acquitted of murdering his twin sons, has told the East and Bays Courier, "As God as my witness I didn't do it". Kahui says he doesn't know who the killer is, but has his suspicions. Kahui last month had another son with new partner Marcia Ngapera. He says contrary to media reports the twins lived in "a fully functioning household" and his family cooperated with police.

Tickets to the Rugby World Cup final in Auckland in 2011 are likely to cost around $1400, the Herald reports. Organisers briefing the incoming minister have said tickets to most of the 40 pool games would cost around $40. That would mean making a loss, but they wanted to achieve what they're calling "a stadium of four million people".