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Rachael King: turning children onto the joys of language and adventure

10:00 am today

Christchurch based author Rachael King has drawn on her love of Scottish folklore and the natural world in her new novel for young readers, The Grimmelings. Audio



Wednesday 21 February 2024

Available Audio (10)

On today’s show


09:05 Prison officers want access to tasers and pepper balls in risky situations

Prison fencing at Paremoremo.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Prison officers want access to tasers, patrol dogs, and pepper balls to help control dangerous situations. The Corrections Association is proposing specialist prison officers to have access to the non-lethal weapons, which can control inmates from a distance. It warns a chronic shortage of corrections officers is placing staff at risk of injury, when a fight or riot breaks out. The Association is meeting with Corrections Minister Mark Mitchell next Thursday, to request the move. President Floyd du Plessis says only site emergency response teams, and advanced control and restraint teams, would be given access to tasers. He is also advocating for the use of pepper balls which release a powder similar to pepper spray, but are shot from a gun. Another suggestion is bringing in perimeter dogs to patrol the fencelines if a dangerous situation reaches a threshold. Corrections Association President Floyd du Plessis, and lawyer Amanda Hill speak with Kathryn Ryan.

09:20 Switching to potassium enriched salt could slash hypertension rates: heart expert

No caption

Photo: 123rf

A leading Australian heart expert says switching to potassium enriched salt could slash hypertension rates. A high salt intake has long been associated with increased risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke. One in five New Zealanders has high blood pressure, according to the Stroke Foundation, making them seven times more likely to have a stroke. The Health Ministry recommends adults limit to roughly a teaspoon per day, but NZ Nutrition foundation figures suggests consumption is much higher. Alta Schutte is a professor of Cardiovascular medicine at the University of New South Wales. She says years of public health warnings about salt have failed to reduce consumption, and she's researched the benefits of switching to potassium enriched low sodium salts which are readily available.

09:45 Australia: Asylum boat sparks debate, Assange fights extradition  

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures from the window of a prison van as he is driven into Southwark Crown Court in London on May 1, 2019, before being sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012. A British judge on Wednesday sentenced WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012. Assange took refuge in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden and was only arrested last month after Ecuador withdrew his asylum status. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

A last-ditch effort by Julian Assange to avoid extradition to the US is underway in London. (file photo) Photo: AFP / DANIEL LEAL

Australia correspondent Annika Smethurst looks at how the arrival of an asylum seeker boat in Western Australia has renewed debate over detention policies. A hearing is underway in the UK over the possible extradition to the US of Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, with Australian PM Anthony Albanese calling for an "amicable" end to the legal process. And Taylor Swift's Melbourne concert blew the superstar away.

Annika Smethurst is political editor at The Age

10:05 Rachael King: turning children onto the joys of language and adventure

Rachel King's new book The Grimmelings

Photo: supplied

Christchurch based author Rachael King has drawn on her love of Scottish folklore and the natural world in her new novel for young readers, The Grimmelings. It's her fourth book: The Sound of Butterflies and Magpie Hall are adult fiction; and she has a previous children's book Red Rocks, which is currently in development for television. The Grimmelings tells the story of 13 year old Ella, who with her beloved pony, has to try to break the curse of a malevolent black-horse-like creature that hovers over her family and community. It's Rachael King's first book in 12 years - but she's hardly be idle - having for eight years been programme director of the WORD Christchurch writers' Festival until the end of 2021. The UK rights to The Grimmelings have been sold already. David Mitchell - author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks describes it as a "compelling, lovingly crafted Young Adult novel about magic, liminal spaces, language and folkloric fusion. Her dialogue glitters". Rachael King will be appearing at the Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts.

10:32 Green MP Efeso Collins has died, RNZ understands

Efeso Collins

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Green MP Efeso Collins has died after taking part in a charity event in central Auckland this morning, RNZ understands. Collins was taking part in a ChildFund charity run in central Auckland when he collapsed. Kathryn speaks with RNZ reporter Maia Ingoe at the scene, and RNZ Political Editor Jo Moir.

10:35 Book review: Bird Child and Other Stories by Patricia Grace 

Photo: Penguin Random House NZ

Lynn Freeman reviews Bird Child and Other Stories by Patricia Grace published by Penguin Random House NZ

10:45 Around the motu : Che Baker in Invercargill

The smelter has had its closure date extended to 2024.

Photo: Otago Daily Times / Stephen Jaquiery

Negotiations between Contact Energy and mining giant Rio Tinto aimed at keeping the region's large employer, the Tiwai Smelter open. As media companies are feeling the heat and cost pressures, Southland is getting a new newspaper. And Waimumu, near Gore has just hosted Southern Field Days, and the Prime Minister dropped by and Mayor Ben Bell had a go at shearing.

11:05 Music: Songs that turn 40 in 2024


One of Prince's best-known songs turns 40 this year. Photo: supplied

Music correspondent Kirsten Zemke joins Kathryn to share some songs that are having a big birthday this year - including some massive power ballads and songs that became an instant classic.

Kirsten Zemke is an ethnomusicologist at the University of Auckland's School of Social Sciences.

11:20 Biz Bell: A pest assassin taking her home-grown skills global

Elizabeth - Biz - Bell has been an assassin-in-training from the time she could walk. Some of her earliest memories are of assisting her father in the field - the renowned conservationist and ornithologist, Brian Bell - whose life's mission was to save Aotearoa's native species from extinction. He worked for DoC and eventually set up Wildlife Management International. Biz, now heading the company is taking predator-free techniques global. Their methods, honed to a fine art - were first exported to Lundy Island, in the English Channel, just over 20 years ago. Biz spoke to Kathryn after several weeks in the UK and Caribbean - clocking up her 30th predator-free island project.

Biz Bell is taking Aotearoa's predator-free eradication techniques global.

Biz Bell is taking Aotearoa's predator-free eradication techniques global. Photo: Supplied


11:45 Science: Why blueberries aren't blue, printing colour from a single ink

Blueberries, chameleon, banana skin

Photo: Pixabay

Science correspondent Allan Blackman looks at a new study which has found the skin of blueberries don't actually have a blue pigment - instead, it's their natural wax coating that gives it a blue appearance. He'll also talk about how US researchers drew inspiration from chameleons to develop a technique to 3D print multiple colours from a single ink. And could bananas be a solution to the plastic waste crisis?

Allan Blackman is a Professor of Chemistry, School of Science, Auckland University of Technology