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What’s on RNZ News at midday – Feb 17

The National Party will campaign on a tax cut package, but the leader Simon Bridges is not yet revealing any of the details; and owners of earthquake-prone apartments want the Government to pay some of the cost of strengthening rather than offer low-interest loans. 

1.A leading infectious disease specialist says New Zealanders returning from a cruise ship infected with Covid-19 should go into further quarantine when they get home. 11 New Zealanders are in isolation aboard the Diamond Princess in Japan, with another two in hospital after testing positive to the disease.   

2.About 400 American passengers who were quarantined on the Diamond Princess for nearly two weeks are on their way back to the US. A spokesperson for the US  National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, says those evacuated will go into quarantine at US Airforce Bases.

3.A passenger from a cruise ship that was allowed to dock in Cambodia last week after being turned away from several other countries has tested positive for the coronavirus. After disembarking in Malaysia, the woman traveled on with more than 100 other passengers.    

4.The Union of Students' Associations wants the Government to let thousands of Chinese students enter the country. The Government ban on travellers from mainland China because of the coronavirus has caught out more than 11,000 foreign students, most of them from Universities.       

5.Sir Elton John has been forced to call off his first Auckland concert midway through the performance after suffering pneumonia and losing his voice.Sir Elton John is expecting to perform all his remaining shows despite having to cut short his concert in Auckland last night because he has pneumonia. He is scheduled to perform at Mount Smart Stadium on Tuesday and Thursday nights as part of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

6.The Far North District Council is trucking in water from Auckland to supply Ngawha Prison in Kaikohe. It comes as the lowest water flows in 50 years have driven drought conditions across the region. Normally the prison takes around 16 percent of Kaikohe's water supply, although its water access has been restricted since 5 February, and the new supply will ease the drought's strain.

7.The aunt of two Samoan teenagers, who were allegedly kept as slaves by a Hastings-based chief, says he threatened to kill her nephew when he ran away to her house. The boy was 17 years old when he was brought to New Zealand for work by Joseph Auga Matamata in 1994. Matamata denies 24 charges of human trafficking and slavery over a 20-year period. Now aged 43, the man finished giving evidence this morning as the trial heads into its second week at the High Court in Napier.

8.Authorties are trying to locate two people missing separately in the Wellington region. One is a 29-year-old Karina Bradnam and the other a 12-year-old Liberty. The police have concerns for their welfare.      

9.The National Party will campaign on a tax cut package, but the leader Simon Bridges is not yet revealing any of the details. Bridges was delivering a speech in Auckland at midday laying out the economic priorities for a National Government, and hinted that those earning around the average wage would benefit.

10.A Court has heard a man snapped before fatally attacking his mother with a hammer in West Auckland. Martin Marinovich is on trial in the High Court at Auckland, accused of murdering Noeleen Marinovich in Oratia in February last year. 

11.The police have announced a five-week trial of an Eagle helicopter in Christchurch. The helicopter, taken from the fleet in Auckland, will be starting to fly around the city from today, until March 20. Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the benefits of the Eagle helicopter were evident in Auckland, where it attends thousands of incidents a year. Almost half of those are road policing and fleeing driving events.

12.Plunket is aiming to better cater to Whānau Māori under its new branding. This morning the organisation launched its new logo to better acknowledge its founding Māori midwives.  

13.Former South Sudanese rebel chief Riek Machar has said he is not satisfied by proposals made by the president aimed at paving the way for the formation of a Government of national unity. On Saturday President Salva Kiir agreed to an opposition demand to reduce the number of states in the country. But Mr Machar says the new proposals do not go far enough.

14.Emergencies are being declared in South Wales and parts of England as Storm Dennis batters the UK. South Wales Police have been dealing with "multiple" landslides  and floods.    

15.Owners of earthquake-prone apartments want the Government to pay some of the cost of strengthening rather than offer low-interest loans. The last-resort financial help is open to owner-occupiers of multi-storey apartments in high-risk earthquake zones who can't get a loan anywhere else to do the work. Carol Brown is retired, mortgage-free and a homeowner. She thought she was set up for life in Wellington's Aro Valley until her apartment was declared earthquake-prone.

16.Cycling advocates want the Government and the Transport Agency to speed up plans to build a safe cycleway along State Highway 2 in Wellington. Hundreds of cyclists will take part in the memorial ride from Parliament to Petone this evening to pay their respects to Brent Norris who was killed on the highway two weeks ago.       

17.The Transport Agency says the first convoy of vehicles into the cut off Milford Sound was a success. The Agency says 25 vehicles were able to get in and out of Milford Sound in Saturday’s convoy and the temporary road service worked well.          
 

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