This Saturday Morning: Kim speaks to journalist Anna Leask about her new book on the grim reality of New Zealand's prisons; Dr Steven Rood gives his assessment of the latest crackdown on a violent ISIS insurgency in the Philippines; author and activist Arundhati Roy on  her first novel in 20 years, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness; New York energy innovator Rory Christian on how utility companies must adapt - or die; visiting Belgian end-of-life expert Professor Jan Bernheim on how good palliative care and euthanasia are mutually reinforcing; 'Zubeida Agha', a pseudonym of a member the feminist art and activism collective The Guerrilla Girls, on how humour drives the group's message; and Jonathan Taplin, one-time tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band, on how the scope and reach of social media 'cornered culture and undermined democracy'.    



8:12 Anna Leask - Behind bars

Anna Leask

Anna Leask Photo: supplied

Anna Leask has worked for the New Zealand Herald since 2008 and is currently a senior reporter, covering crime and justice for the daily newspaper as well as for the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday. Notably she's reported on the re-investigation of Arthur Allan Thomas, 43 years after the double murders for which he served nine years in prison before being pardoned, and the Christchurch 'House of Horrors' murderer Jason Somerville, who killed his wife and buried her under his East Christchurch house a year after doing the same to his neighbour Tisha Lowery. Leask covered the Pike River Mine disaster in 2010, the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes, Fiji's Cyclone Winston in early 2016 and travelled to Gallipoli in 2015 to cover the centenary of the Anzac landings. She won a Canon Media Award for crime and justice reporting in 2014.  Her first book, Behind Bars: Real-life stories from inside New Zealand prisons has just been released. 

8:40 Steven Rood - Terror in the Philippines

A boy clutches to his mother after residents where evacuated from their homes on the outskirts of Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao this week.

A boy clutches to his mother after residents where evacuated from their homes on the outskirts of Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao this week. Photo: TED ALJIBE / AFP

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in Marawi on Mindanao island after a Muslim militant group took control of parts of the city last week. Marawi is reported to be devastated by fighting, with more than 100 civilians killed and 85,000 residents forced to flee to evacuation centres.  Dr Steven Rood is Distinguished Visitor at the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific. Formerly the Asia Foundation's country representative for the Philippines and Pacific Island Nations, Steven Rood is the author of a number of works on Filipino politics. His most recent publication is "The Role of International Actors in the Search for Peace in Mindanao," in Paul D. Hutchcroft, (ed.) Mindanao: The Long Journey to Peace and Prosperity (2016). 

9:05 Arundhati Roy - The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy Photo: Mayaank Austen Soofi

Arundhati Roy is an Indian novelist and activist.  After a childhood in Kerala, she moved to Delhi at age 16, eventually studying architecture at the Delhi School of Architecture while dreaming of a career in writing.  Moving into television writing, Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her first novel The God of Small Things, following that work with mainly politically-oriented nonfiction on issues such as the environment and human rights abuses and global capitalism.  She narrowly escaped sedition charges in 2010 after publicly supporting independence for the disputed Kashmir region of India.  In recognition of her outspoken advocacy of human rights, Roy was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award in 2002, the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004, and the Sahitya Akademi Award from the Indian Academy of Letters in 2006. She is about to release her second work of fiction in 20 years, called The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.


9:35 Rory Christian - Keeping the lights on 

Rory Christian

Rory Christian Photo: supplied

Rory Christian is the director of New York Clean Energy at the Environmental Defense Fund, focusing on energy and clean air in New York. He works with state and city officials on policy to guide an evolving utility landscape, and also works with Green Bank and private sector clean energy companies on financing clean energy projects in the state. Prior to that, he was director of energy, finance and sustainability at the New York Housing Authority, where he managed a $500 milllion utility budget while promoting energy conservation. Christian was a key player in world-leading energy market reforms that started in New York in 2014, and is in New Zealand as a guest of Vector, which says it will need to invest almost $2bn in the next 10 years in Auckland alone to ensure the city can "keep the lights on".  However, the spend will be put towards developing technologies, such as those championed by the New York Clean Energy initiative, rather than "poles and wires". 


10:05 Jan Bernheim - Belgium's end-of-life expertise 

Jan Bernheim

Jan Bernheim Photo: supplied

Belgian professor Jan Bernheim is one of the world's leading experts in palliative care and medically assisted dying and a senior researcher at the End-of-Life Care Research Group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Brussels) and Ghent University, one of the world's largest organisations specialising in the subject.  Belgium was the second country to legalise medically assisted dying (in 2002) and Bernheim, a retired doctor and oncologist, was co-founder of the first palliative care service on the European continent in 1979. He has a rare ability to speak authoritatively on both palliative care at end of life and voluntary euthanasia. He says the Belgian experience showed that the development of palliative care and the process of legalising voluntary euthanasia could be mutually reinforcing, and  the provision of adequate palliative care in Belgium made the legalisation of euthanasia ethically and politically acceptable. Berheim is in New Zealand at the invitation of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society for a nine-city speaking tour which will end in Auckland on June 17.



10:40 Guerrilla Girls - Culture jamming the world of art 

Guerrilla Girls

Guerrilla Girls Photo: wikicommons

The Guerrilla Girls is a feminist activist art collective.  Over 55 people have been members of the collective since its formation in 1985. The group uses 'culture jamming' in the form of posters, books, billboards, and public appearances to expose discrimination and corruption in the art world, keeping a focus on the message by never revealing individual identities (gorilla masks are always worn by members in public). The collective has done over 100 street projects, posters and stickers all over the world, as well as projects and exhibitions that point out discriminatory practices within the museums and galleries. One of the collective's pieces, "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" (1989) is being exhibited as part of The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from Tate on at the Auckland Art Gallery - Toi O Tāmaki, until July 16.


Guerrilla Girls - a retrospective 


11:05 Jonathan Taplin - Social media vs democracy

Jonathan Taplin

Jonathan Taplin Photo: supplied

Jonathan Taplin is the Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. He began his entertainment career in 1969 as tour manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973 he produced Martin Scorsese's first feature film, Mean Streets, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1974 and 1996, Taplin worked on television documentaries and 12 feature films including The Last Waltz. His films were nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards and chosen for the Cannes Film Festival five times. In 1984 Taplin acted as the investment advisor to the Bass Brothers in their successful attempt to save Walt Disney Studios from a corporate raid. This experience brought him to Merrill Lynch, where he served as vice president of media mergers and acquisitions. Taplin was a founder of Intertainer, the pioneer video-on-demand company for both cable and broadband Internet markets, and has been its chair and CEO since 1996. He has recently published Move Fast & Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.



Books mentioned in this episode:

'The Role of International Actors in the Search for Peace in Mindanao'

by Steven Rood

in Mindanao: The Long Journey to Peace and Prosperity (2016)

Paul D. Hutchcroft, (ed.)

Anvil Publishing

ISBN: 978 6 214 20008 5


The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy

Random House

ISBN 0679457313


The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

by Arundhati Roy

Penguin India 

ISBN 067008963X


Behind Bars: Real-life stories from inside New Zealand prisons

by Anna Leask


ISBN 9780143770268


Move Fast & Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy

by Jonathan Taplin


ISBN 9781509847693






Music played in this show

Artist: The Band
Song: Up on Cripple Creek
Composer: Robbie Robertson
Album: The Last Waltz
Label: Warner Bros Records
Played at: 11:45

Artist: Bob Dylan & The Band
Song: Forever Young
Composer: Bob Dylan
Album: The Last Waltz
Label: Warner Bros Records
Played at: 11:50