Each weekday The Front Page keeps you up to date with the biggest news in New Zealand. Today it's action on a deadly new meningitis strain, a gunman dies after a standoff with police, the possibility of changes for mortgage rules, and children prove they're smarter than the rest of us. Hosted by Frances Cook.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts here, iHeartRadio here, and Stitcher here.

The Government is launching an urgent immunisation programme to fight meningococcal disease in Northland, after increasing problems with a new deadly strain, MenW.

There have been seven nationwide MenW-related deaths this year, with three in Northland.

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The number of MenW cases jumped from five in 2016 to 29 this year.

Health Minister David Clark says clinical experts have now declared MenW has reached outbreak levels in Northland, and an immunisation programme is urgently needed to prevent further spread of the disease.

The vaccination programme will start on December 5 in selected high schools and community centres across Northland. It will target people aged nine months to four years, and those aged 13 to 19 years.

Northland residents will not have to pay for the vaccine.

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A gunman has died from a gunshot injury, after first terrorising the occupants of a Darfield house, and then being confronted by armed police.

It's not yet clear if the fatal gunshot was fired by police.

Officers were called to a house in the Canterbury town about 4pm yesterday, to reports a man had threatened a family member with a gun.

Family members told them he'd fired the gun a number of times outside the house, and tried to get in by shooting at the door.

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Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price has praised the actions of the two local officers who responded, saying he's proud of them.

The injured officer has multiple fractures and is set to have surgery in Christchurch Hospital.

Price says the man was flung into the air after being hit.

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Thousands of hospital services workers are getting a pay rise which they say is "life-changing".

Around 3500 hospital services workers around the country will receive up to a 40 per cent pay rise in the next three years.

For Auckland District Health Board cleaner Lena Hiku the news is life-changing.

The mother-of-two has worked six to seven days every week for the last 19 years, in order to put food on the table for her children, pay a mortgage and keep on top of her "ever growing" weekly bills.

With the new multi-employer agreement (MECA) under way, the level 3 qualified cleaner would see a pay jump from $19.29 an hour to $25.58 by March 2021.

She says the pay rate means she will finally be able to have weekends free to spend time with her family and go to church on Sundays.

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The Prime Minister has come under renewed pressure over the burgled professor case, with a coalition of academics and civil society figures calling for government action to safeguard academic freedoms and the safety of Anne-Marie Brady.

It comes after an ongoing campaign of harassment against the University of Canterbury professor - apparently linked to her work researching China's foreign policy - that has included burglaries of her home and office and suspicions her car had been sabotaged.

An open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters calls for "a clear statement in defence of academic freedom in light of the Brady case".

It says the Government should "be very clear that any intimidation and threats aimed at silencing academic voices in this country will not be tolerated".

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Labour MP Louisa Wall says groups against trans-women should be banned from Pride Parade.

Wall, who is openly gay and an advocate for LGBTIQ rights, used strong language against Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists, known as TERFs, while speaking last week during a private Pride hui.

However, Wall was secretly recorded and the audio uploaded to the Speak Up For Women website, who called it "hate speech".

The website said there were legitimate concerns, and the word "terf" was "hate speech used to belittle and threaten" those who disagreed with trans people.

Wall says she didn't know she was being recorded, but still stood by her comments.

She says trans people are five times more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide ... so groups that sought to further marginalise and question their right to exist needed to be condemned.

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New Zealand and the United Kingdom will begin negotiations in earnest on a free trade agreement once the UK leaves the European Union in March next year.

The Government is now seeking submissions on the free trade agreement.

Trade Minister David Parker says the UK is one of New Zealand's oldest friends, and a free trade agreement makes a lot of sense.

Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has welcomed the step.

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Government Minister Julie Anne Genter has returned to work after three months on parental leave.

Genter, who is Minister for Women as well as Associate Minister of Transport and Health, gave birth to her son in August after a headline-grabbing ride to hospital on her bike to be induced.

She's wasted no time now that she's back, announcing NZTA is giving $23 million to expand programmes to get more Kiwi kids on their bikes.

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The strawberry contamination spectre has reared its ugly head again, this time in Canterbury.

A needle has been found inside a punnet of strawberries bought at a Geraldine supermarket on Saturday morning.

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The tough lending rules that set deposit levels for home buyers could be relaxed this week in response to a flattening property market, although economists warn the Reserve Bank will move cautiously and keep a close eye on debt.

The Reserve Bank has indicated it's reviewing the loan to value ratio (LVR) rules, which were introduced to try and cool the property market in 2015.

It will release its conclusions in the Financial Stability Report due this Wednesday.

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There's been a bit of shakiness in the markets ahead of the G20 Summit this week.

Trade tensions between the US and China are likely to take centre stage when world leaders gather in Buenos Aires, and some are hoping the tensions will ease.

Greg Smith, from Fat Prophets, says investors are at least hoping for more certainty.

Despite that, investors are feeling a little more upbeat.

The latest ASB Investor Confidence Report shows sentiment improved in the third quarter, following a significant drop in the June quarter.

Investor confidence rose in every region in New Zealand, except for Canterbury where it dipped slightly.

For more on this story, tune in to Newstalk ZB
Police are investigating an alleged sex attack on a woman involving up to five men at a Taupō motorsport park following a drift event.

The alleged incident occurred at an after-party following a two-day event at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park on November 10 and 11.

Taupō police confirmed they are "investigating an allegation of a sexual nature with a number of alleged offenders".

Drift Matsuri NZ event organiser Chris Howard told the Herald he was contacted by police a day after the drift event about an alleged sexual assault.

He says park security also contacted him about the alleged incident.

Howard didn't know if the alleged incident involved a driver or a spectator.

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As many as 145 pilot whales have died after a mass stranding in Mason Bay on Stewart Island.

A hiker reportedly spotted the whales on Saturday and notified DOC staff at 10.30pm.

DOC spokesperson Ren Leppens says half of the whales had already died by the time they were found and due to the condition of the remaining whales and the remote, difficult to access location, the "heart-breaking" decision was made to euthanise the remainder.

Marine mammal strandings are a relatively common occurrence on New Zealand shores, with DOC responding to an average 85 incidents a year – but they're mostly of single animals.

A pod of pygmy whales are also currently stranded at 90 Mile Beach in the Far North.

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Kiwi preschoolers are creating music and art on touchscreen tablets well before they can write.

That's the results of a new study by Victoria University doctoral student Luke Santamaria.

He says almost half of NZ early childhood services let their preschool children use iPads and other tablets.

Most teachers encourage them to use apps such as LetterSchool for writing, GarageBand for music and numerous apps for drawing and painting, rather than just letting them play games.

He says the children are often better at working the technology than the adults.

Almost half of play centres, 46 per cent, use the tablets for playing music to soothe children to sleep in mat time.

Almost as many, 42 per cent, use them for stimulating creativity, letting the children create their own art and music.

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That's the Front Page for today, Monday November 26, making sure you're across the biggest news of the day. For more on these stories, check out The New Zealand Herald, or tune in to Newstalk ZB.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts here, iHeartRadio here, and Stitcher here.

If you like to stay up to date on social media, you can find host Frances Cook on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.