Thursday's headlines: Helicopter goes missing during massive scrub fire; Black hole in the economy costs Govt in lost tax; Courthouses close for earthquake strengthening.
The New Zealand Herald leads with the search for a missing helicopter, after a massive scrub fire in the Far North.
The blaze, which has razed homes, forced five people to flee from flames into the water at Matai Bay on the Karikari Peninsula. Firefighters were using helicopters with monsoon buckets to try to contain the fire on Wednesday night but one of the helicopters went missing and it's feared it has crashed.
The Waikato Times carries the headline "Mine accused of gas cover-up".
An unnamed miner has told the paper rumours had been circulating that methane levels reached up to 9% during last month's incident, and there was pressure on the company to make a profit.
The Dominion Post reports on the "Black Hole in the Economy". The lead article says cash trade jobs, crimes, wages under the table and online trading are costing the Government more than $7 billion a year in lost tax.
The paper's second article reports on the acquittal of Michael Palairet, who was accused of assisting his wife Eva commit suicide. Their son Roger says the trial exposed secrets the couple had held close through 47 years of marriage and would have been his mother's nightmare.
The Press leads with a picture of golfer Michael Campbell playing out of a bunker ahead of the New Zealand Golf Open which tees off at Clearwater Golf Club on Thursday.
The Open is the first truly international sporting fixture to be played in sports-starved Christchurch since February's earthquake.
A second article reports engineers have faced a legal grilling for declaring the Pyne Gould Corporation building ''safe to occupy'', despite knowing almost nothing about its low underlying strength.
The Otago Daily Times reports the Oamaru and Balclutha courthouses will be closed, possibly for the next year, while remedial earthquake strengthening work is carried out.
The Dunedin courthouse is being assessed to see if it needs work.
The paper also reports the mystery of the missing Victoria Cross awarded to North Otago soldier Sergeant Donald Forrester Brown has been solved.
The medal is still in New Zealand and owned by a family member who says it will never be sold.
And the official first day of summer has arrived. A warmer and drier summer than usual is predicted for Central Otago but the coast, including Dunedin, is not expected to fare so well.