WELLINGTON, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Following are some of the lead stories from New Zealand metropolitan newspapers on Monday.
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)
All stops out to protect 'brand Key': A new poll reveals how much National has to lose if it is tainted by Nicky Hager's dirty tricks allegations, with its brand clearly resting on voter perceptions of John Key. The Stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll explains why National has gone so heavily on attack against Hager and his claims senior people in the Key administration aided and abetted a Right-wing blog best known for digging dirt on its Left-wing opponents.
Investors in Spark awaiting the sparkle: Telecom has a new name in Spark but has yet to show it can shake off the headwinds that have long dogged the company, analysts say. Most remain lukewarm on Spark ahead of its annual result on Friday, despite some speculation it could cheer investors with a share buy-back.
Greens gain Canty support: Cantabrians appear more likely to vote Green than people anywhere else in the country, a new poll suggests. Data from the stuff.co.nz/Ipsos political poll shows the Green Party gained 8.8 percentage points, according to surveys done at the start of this month, putting the party on 21.2 per cent support in Canterbury against a national average of 11.3 per cent.
Letters reveal rebuild tensions: A frosty relationship between the Government and the Christchurch City Council threatened to handicap the city's rebuild, documents show.
NEW ZEALAND HERALD (www.nzherald.co.nz)
Race turning tighter and grubbier: The election race is getting closer and is set to get grubbier as two polls show National's easy ride to a third term is not such a sure thing - even before the Dirty Politics scandal takes effect.
Budget surplus at risk of vanishing: The wafer-thin surplus which the Budget pencilled in for 2014-15 is at some risk of disappearing when the Treasury updates its fiscal and economic forecasts tomorrow. The NZ$372 million (315.75 million U.S. dollars) surplus forecast in May's Budget is well within the margin of error.
Oil and gas spending soars: Oil and gas exploration and development spending was up 7 percent last year to almost NZ$1.6 billion, according to the latest official figures which also show a big jump in gas reserves.
Westpac and BNZ to be served court papers in 'unfair fees' case: Two of New Zealand's largest banks will this week be served court papers over claims they charged more than 41,600 customers unfair penalty fees. The Fair Play on Fees group, fronted by Auckland lawyer Andrew Hooker, yesterday confirmed it would lodge documents in the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday to begin legal action against Westpac and BNZ for what it believes to be unfair exception fees.
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