WELLINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - Following are some of the lead stories from New Zealand metropolitan newspapers on Thursday.
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.
$1.25m Te Papa funding cut proposal: Te Papa has been granted continued Wellington City Council funding but will have to accept a big cut as councillors struggle to curb a rising rates bill.
Key, Shearer ready to rumble in speech battle: Prime Minister John Key will try to trump Labour leader David Shearer's first big speech today by laying out a plan to set tough new targets for the public service - starting with a promise of more 18-year-olds getting an NCEA level 2 qualification.
Nosh in milk bottling bid: A boutique grocer is looking for a $2 million business partner in a bid to bottle its own milk.
US investors to back offshore mining project: Chatham Rock Phosphate is expecting to start commercial mining on the Chatham Rise in 2014 after raising up to $7 million from wealthy United States backers acting through a private equity fund with links to undersea mineral explorer Neptune Minerals.
Fuel firms accused of chasing greater profits: Fuel companies are seeking greater profits by raising petrol prices sooner, the Automobile Association claims, with petrol now just 2 cents from an all-time high.
NEW ZEALAND HERALD (www.nzherald.co.nz)
Key speech to centre on public service targets: Super Thursday has arrived when Prime Minister John Key and Opposition Leader David Shearer each give major speeches, one in Auckland and one in Wellington.
Govt set to backtrack on ACC competition plan: The Government is backing away from plans to rejig the Accident Compensation Corporation to allow competition from private insurers because of concerns it will drive up costs for small and medium businesses and the taxpayer.
Over-55s own most of NZ's wealth: New Zealanders aged 55 and over now own more than half of the country's total net wealth, largely thanks to the house price boom in the past decade.
F&P Appliances enters booming India: Fisher & Paykel Appliances ,FPA.NZ> has launched into India - one of the world's fastest-growing economies - and is planning to enlist New Zealand cricketers and Bollywood celebrities to promote its brand on the sprawling subcontinent.
Patch's online sales to beat NZ stores in two years: Earnings from Pumpkin Patch's online business are expected to outpace those of its New Zealand retail stores within two years, and its chief executive says the company is looking to use the internet to expand into new international markets.