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What’s on RNZ News at midday – Feb 19

Fletcher Building says it hopeful the Ihumatao land dispute can be resolved soon; and the Electricity Authority says the ban on power companies offering better deals to customers who want to switch should bring power prices down.  

1.Friends and family of the people who have spent two weeks in quarantine at the Whangaparāoa naval base since returning from Chinese city of Wuhan are gathering at the base, awaiting their friends release. More than 150 people are due to leave today.   

2.The number of deaths from the epidemic in China’s Hubei province has risen by 132 since yesterday to 1,921. The province’s health commission says nearly 1700 more cases have been detected in Hubei, taking the total in the province to 61,682.

3.A banking expert is picking mortgage rates could rise this year. KPMG's head of banking and finance John Kensington says researchers are watching a metric known as the net interest margin, which measures the difference between what a bank has to pay its lenders and what it gets back from its borrowers.           

4.Kāinga Ora has come under fire at a select committee meeting over its buying of houses in the private market to use as state housing. Members of the Social Services and Community select committee also asked about the agency’s sustainability practices, community building and some tenants anti-social behaviour.          

5.A summer of water failures in Wellington has reached boiling point today. Senior city council members will meet Wellington Water behind closed doors this afternoon to pinpoint how to address spiraling failures with the network.

6.Fletcher Building says it hopeful the Ihumatao land dispute can be resolved soon. Its Chief Executive Ross Taylor says it's been a complex situation.

7.Te Taura Whiri says it's on track to achieve its goal of one million New Zealanders being able to speak basic Reo Māori by 2040 but its executive team told the Māori Affairs Select Committee today the demand for Te Reo is still exceeding the supply.      

8.Couples seeking fertility help are being told to be wary of how clinics advertise their success rates. About one in five couples have trouble conceiving and a lot of them seek help. Many clinics across Australia and New Zealand advertise their in vitro fertilisation (IVF) success rates on their websites. Couples often shop around for the best and most successful clinic to maximise their chances.

9.The Electricity Authority says the ban on power companies offering better deals to customers who want to switch should bring power prices down. From March 21st, the authority will ban the so called win-backs offered to customers within 180 days of leaving.  

10.A Court has been told that a woman accused of murdering her partner was drunk, angry and feeling bold when she killed him. Lawyers are today summing up their cases in the trial of Karen Anne Ruddelle who claims she was acting in self defence when she stabbed   Joseph Ngapera in their Manurewa home in 2018.

11.The Crown has dropped the charge against an Auckland man accused of killing his 11-month-old son. He was arrested in November 2018 after an almost a year long police investigation into the infant's death.          

12.An inquest into a man who died while in a mental health unit has heard he was able to rack up $20,000 of debt while under the care of the staff. Samuel Fischer was a patient at Wellington hospital from the end of January last year till the middle of April.   

13.New Zealand officials are being accused of lobbying for less protection for endangered sea corals. At a major international meeting, a new lower limit has been set for the amount of coral boats that are allowed to damage near nets.

14.Much of India's bird population has sharply declined in the past few decades, according to a major study. The State of India's Birds report relied on the observations of more than 15,000 birdwatchers who helped assess the status of 867 birds. It found the greatest decline in the numbers of eagles, vultures, warblers and migrating shorebirds.

15.Michael Bloomberg is surged to contention in the race to challenge Donald Trump for the US Presidency in November. Bloomberg has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on campaign advertising and a late run for the democratic party nomination.

16.Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy protection. A move the organisation says will allow to build a compensation fund for sex abuse victims.    

17.The trial for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges has been set to start on March 17th, two weeks after he stands for re-election. 
 

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