PRESS DIGEST-New Zealand newspapers - Jan 25

WELLINGTON Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:53pm EST

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WELLINGTON Jan 25 (Reuters) - Following are some of the lead stories from New Zealand metropolitan newspapers on Friday.

Stories may be taken from either the paper or Internet editions of the papers.

Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

DOMINION POST(www.stuff.co.nz)

Plenty hanging on leaders' speeches: It has become a fixture of the political year - the annual jockeying for position with speeches by the prime minister and leader of the Opposition regarding the state of the nation.

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Don't take us for granted Maori warn politicians: As the Maori Party battles for survival, its political opponents are already fighting to pick up the lost votes. But politicians were given a stern warning during festivities at Ratana Pa, near Whanganui, yesterday: "Never take for granted the Maori electorate vote ever again".

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Tag Oil plans NZ$40m drilling expansion: Canadian company Tag Oil is planning to spend more than NZ$40 million on a major drilling campaign around Taranaki this year.

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Customs eyes up fuel firms' 'slops': Customs is investigating whether fuel companies are avoiding paying millions in tax by recycling so-called "slops" into petrol, without paying excise.

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Dollar cuts into farming dividends: Red meat is trading reasonably well in spite of a high dollar putting pressure on farmgate returns, says Silver Fern Farms chief executive Keith Cooper.

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NEW ZEALAND HERALD (www.nzherald.co.nz)

Rents rising faster than wages and inflation: Auckland rents are outstripping wages and rising faster than inflation, a four-year comparison shows.

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Fertiliser aid dropped after milk tests: An important fertiliser aid has been culled from farmers' chemical shopping lists after it turned up in milk products destined for human consumption.

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Turia plays down upheaval at top: Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has downplayed suggestions her party is in chaos over its leadership, saying planning a changeover at the top was a healthy necessity for any party.

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Mega off to racing start: Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's latest venture has started with a bang - but will Mega burn bright or burn out?

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Low visits impact on Rainbow's End profit: New Zealand Experience, the operator of Auckland's Rainbow's End theme park, says it expects to downgrade its full-year profit forecast on the back of lower-than-expected visitor numbers resulting from a major development taking place at the park.

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