On Saturday Morning this week: Kim talks to Icelandic journalist Ingólfur Sigfússon from RUV - The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service - about political chaos in the country after what some are calling 'Iceland's Jimmy Saville scandal'; Wellingtonian Brent Williams on how his new illustrated memoir tells the tale of a painful childhood and long road to recovery; internationally renowned Chinese lute (pipa) virtuoso Wu Man describes her art in advance of a concert in Wellington;  iconic dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright reflects on 40 years since the Limbs dance troupe was formed; biochemist Kevin Esvelt explains the benefits and pitfalls of manipulating evolution through gene technology; Antarctic historian David Day talks about his new book on the frozen continent, which will explore the geo-political claims to it; and finally, C K (Karl) Stead talks about his good friend, the late poet Allen Curnow, immortalised in two new books - a collection of his best poetry, and a biography.  


8:09  Ingólfur Sigfússon - Iceland's government melts down

head of new mediaRUV - The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service

Photo: Supplied

Parliament in Iceland has been dissolved and it may be looking at electing its sixth prime minister in nine years. The meltdown began after it was found that Benedikt Sveinsson, the father of Prime Minster Bjarni Benediktsson, wrote a letter seeking a pardon for an acquaintance who had been jailed for raping and sexually abusing his stepdaughter for 12 years - and claims that the prime minister knew about the letter but had tried to cover it up. Mr Benediktsson's shaky ruling coalition collapsed over the scandal, paving the way for a new election on October 28. Kim will unpick the chain of events with Ingólfur Sigfússon, a reporter for RUV, the Icelandic national broadcaster.

8:20 Brent Williams - Out of the Woods

Brent Williams

Brent Williams Photo: Supplied

In an illustrated memoir just released, Wellington man Brent Williams tells the story of childhood abuse, his decline into depression and anxiety, and his gradual, halting healing. Out of the Woods reveals how Williams' father, the high-profile millionaire businessman and philanthropist Sir Arthur Williams, had one face for the outside world and another, much scarier one, for his family. Brent Williams' road to recovery reveals an out-of-body experience, the importance of a good therapist, looking after himself - and dealing with his past. Out of the Woods features 700 watercolour illustrations by Turkish artist Korkut Oztekin.

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9:04 Wu Man - Pipa virtuoso

Wu Man by Stephen Khan

Wu Man by Stephen Khan Photo: Supplied

Wu Man is a founding member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silkroad Ensemble, which aims to bring cultures together through music. She is a virtuoso in the pipa - also called the Chinese lute - which has been played in China for around 2000 years and she is credited with giving the instrument a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. Wu Man was the first person to receive a master's degree in pipa performance from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She collaborates with the Kronos Quartet and the Shanghai Quartet, and has worked with orchestras around the world. She has recorded more than 40 albums, five of which have been nominated for Grammy Awards. She was named Musical America's 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year. Wu Man plays with the NZ String Quartet in a concert organised by Victoria University and the Confucius Institute, at St Mary of the Angels, Wellington on September 28.

9:30 Douglas Wright - Limbs@40 

Dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright

Dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright Photo: John Savage

Douglas Wright is an acclaimed dancer and choreographer. He danced with Limbs Dance Company of New Zealand (1980-1983), and companies in New York and London before forming the Douglas Wright Dance Company in Auckland in 1989.  He has created more than 30 works and toured extensively, becoming one of five inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand laureates. In 2003 he was the subject of a feature-length documentary film, Haunting Douglas. He has also written memoirs, poetry and essays. Wright's works Knee-Dance and Quartet will be performed by dance students as part of Limbs@40, a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the formation of New Zealand's first ever contemporary dance company, Limbs, as part of the Tempo Dance Festival at Auckland's Q Theatre during October.


10:04 Kevin Esvelt - Sculpting evolution 

Dr Kevin Esvelt

Dr Kevin Esvelt Photo: MIT

Dr Kevin Esvelt is an assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Sculpting Evolution Laboratory. An outspoken advocate of open and community-guided science, his research team is working with US island communities such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to solve ecological problems by engineering local populations of wild organisms. Esvelt was in New Zealand briefly this week to attend a public forum at the University of Otago, organised by the Allan Wilson at Otago research group in partnership with the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, on the topic of using gene technology to remove invasive predators, which is thought to be a promising option for New Zealand in its drive to remove invasive mammalian predators by 2050. To contact Esvelt about any issues raised in this interview, email: esvelt[at]mit.edu


11:04 David Day - Controversies of the frozen continent

David Day

David Day Photo: supplied

David Day is an Australian historian and author who has written extensively on Australian history and the history of the Second World War. Among his many books are Menzies & Churchill at War, and his prize-winning history of Australia, Claiming a Continent. He also wrote Paul Keating: The Biography (2015).  Antarctica has long been another interest of Day's. He took controversial lines in both Antarctica: A Biography (2012) and Flaws in the Ice - in search of Douglas Mawson (2013) and will likely provoke controversy again when he releases Antarctica: What everyone needs to know early next year, in which he tackles issues like the geo-politics of the multiple bases in Antarctica and the climate data coming out of the continent. Day will be in New Zealand speaking at a writers' event with Auckland Libraries, organised by The Antarctic Report, to mark the 60th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year that kicked off a wave of scientific research in Antarctica as well as established many of the bases, including Scott Base.

11:35 C K Stead - The Allen Curnow I knew 

Karl Stead and Allen Curnow

Allen Curnow (left) and Karl Stead Photo: supplied

One of New Zealand's greatest poets, Allen Curnow (1911-2001), is being remembered in two new books to be launched in September, The Collected Poems of Allen Curnow and a major new biography, Simply by Sailing in a New Direction, by the late Professor Terry Sturm. Curnow's career and life will be celebrated at a special symposium at the University of Auckland's faculty of arts on September 30, at which his great friend and colleague, Emeritus Professor of English, C.K. Stead, will give a keynote address. Stead's long and distinguished career in novels, poetry and literary criticism has seen him receive a CBE in 1985, the Order of New Zealand in 2007, and he was named Poet Laureate 2015 - 2017.   





Books mentioned in this episode:


Out of the Woods

by Brent Williams

 : 9780473390068

Educational Resources Ltd


Ghost Dance

by Douglas Wright 

ISBN 0143019031

Penguin Books 


Antartica: A Biography  

by David Day 

ISBN 9781741669084

Knopf Books 


Flaws in the Ice - in search of Douglas Mawson

by David Day 

ISBN 1493007505

Lyons Press


Simply Sailing in a New Direction: Allen Curnow, a biography

by Terry Sturm, edited by Linda Cassells 

ISBN 9781869408527

Auckland University Press


Collected Poems: Allen Curnow  

edited by Terry Sturm  and Elizabeth Caffin

ISBN 9781869408510

Auckland University Press



Music played in this show

Artist: Maisey Rika
Song: Taku Mana
Composer: Maisey Rika
Album: Tira
Label: Maisey Rika
Played at: 10:55