This Saturday Morning: In a week in which MPI has been forced to apologise for the way it handled the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme, Kim speaks to Dr Merlyn Hay, a Oamaru-based vet whose dogged efforts to get to the bottom of the outbreak helped contain the disease;  she also speaks to the University of Nebraska's Professor Howard Gendelman, who has authored a study in which HIV is eradicated from the DNA of infected mice - suggesting the disease may eventually be curable; historian and author Sir Simon Schama speaks of his life-long love affair with words; art crime expert Arthur Tompkins explains what was lost in the 2010 theft of five iconic pieces of art from Paris’s Modern Art Museum; Dr Karen Grylls on her long crusade to get New Zealanders to attend choral performances; contraptionist Brett Doar talks about being comfortable with chaos; Ecologist John Flux on a lifetime of work on starlings, rabbits and his cats, and a curious hypothesis that humans may be doomed by domestication, and to finish off, Lisa McMillan an advocate of dining in your birthday suit.   




08:12  Dr Merlyn Hay - Vet who discovered M. Bovis in South Canterbury cows

 Dr Merlyn Hay

Dr Merlyn Hay Photo: Supplied / Federated Farmers

In mid 2017 Oamaru veterinarian Dr Merlyn Hay noticed cows and calves on a South Canterbury property displaying unusual and distressing symptoms.

Her dogged determination to find the cause of their illness lead to the identification of the presence of Mycoplasma bovis in New Zealand.

Her actions are credited with helping limit the scale of the disease and ensuring New Zealand has a chance of eradicating the disease.

She was honoured this week at the inaugural Primary Industries Summit gala dinner in Wellington for her 'tenacity and professionalism'.

This comes in the same week that the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries apologised to farmers for the way the Ministry handled the programme to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis.

As of the end of May, 101,097 cattle have been culled, 171 farms are confirmed to have the disease, and 512 remain under active surveillance.

No caption

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller



08:40 Professor Howard Gendelman - Eliminating HIV from the DNA of mice: can HIV be cured?

Professor Howard Gendelman

Professor Howard Gendelman Photo: ©2009 Andrew Marinkovich/Malone & Company

This week, researchers from Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) announced they had been able to eliminate HIV from the DNA of infected mice - a proof of concept the researchers say demonstrates that the disease is curable, and possibly eventually curable in human beings.

Nearly 37 million people are living with HIV at present, which if not treated with lifelong antiretroviral medications, can develop into AIDS. 

Kim will talk to Professor Howard Gendelman, study author and chairman of the UNMC's pharmacology and experimental neuroscience department.

Computer illustration of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) particle.

Computer illustration of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) particle. Photo: Photo / AFP


09:05 Sir Simon Schama - Historian and author's long-term love affair with words

Sir Simon Schama

Sir Simon Schama Photo: Oxford Film and Television Ltd

Simon Schama is Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University in New York.

He has written and presented forty television documentary films for the BBC, PBS, and The History Channel, including the Emmy-winning Power of Art, on subjects that range from John Donne to Tolstoy.

His award-winning books include Scribble, Scribble, Scribble; The American Future: A History; and the Story of the Jews and History of Britain trilogy.

His latest is Wordy, a collection of 50 essays stretching back over four decades and traversing the areas of arts, politics, food and life.




09:45 Arthur Tompkins - Art Crime: effective and boastful thief swipes five of the best

Arthur Tompkins

Arthur Tompkins Photo: supplied

Arthur Tompkins is a trustee of the NZ Art Crime Research Trust and a District Court Judge in Wellington.

In 2016 he edited Art Crime and Its Prevention (Lund Humphries, London), and the same publisher released Plundering Beauty: A History of Art Crime During War.

He'll discuss the 2010 theft of five modern masterpieces, including works by Picasso, Matisse and Modgliani, from a Paris museum: a boastful thief, the still missing art ... but perhaps it's hidden somewhere waiting to be found?


Paris’s Modern Art Museum thefts, 20th May, 2010


10:05 Dr Karen Grylls - Passionate long-time advocate for choral music  

Dr Karen Grylls

Dr Karen Grylls Photo: Supplied / Karen Grylls

Voices New Zealand is the country's nationally-selected choir and is hitting the road in July with five new works from five of New Zealand's most exciting composers - the first tour of its kind for them. 

The choir was founded by Dr Karen Grylls (ONZM), who serves as its artistic director and conductor.

She is also the Artistic Director of NZ Youth Choir, and  Associate Professor in Conducting and Head of Choral Studies at the University of Auckland.

Karen will talk to Kim about her quest to try and get New Zealanders along to choir performances - which was also a quest of her colleague Dr Guy Jansen, founder of NZ Youth Choir and NZ Secondary Students Choir, who has just died.



10:30 Brett Doar - World leading contraptionist, kinetic sculptor, and engineer helps create local kids' series

Brett Doar

Brett Doar Photo: Supplied / Augusto

Brett Doar is a contraptionist, kinetic sculptor, and engineer best known for his Rube Goldberg machines, which he has designed and engineered for the likes of Disney, and OK Go's This Too Shall Pass music video. 

He features in a new locally-made television series called What's Your Problem?, in which he and others solve Kiwi kids' most annoying problems by turning everyday household objects into ridiculous contraptions. The series launched Friday July 5th on HEIHEI.




11:05 John Flux - Lifelong ecologist

John Flux in Iran in 1977 with a road kill hare

John Flux in Iran in 1977 with a road kill hare Photo: Supplied

Internationally respected New Zealand ecologist John Flux has spent his life studying hares, starlings, and even his own cats.

His study of starlings in Belmont Regional Park, near Wellington, has become one of the longest continuous ecological studies in the world, running from 1970 to today.

At its peak he and his wife Meg would examine 500 starling nest boxes, located in munitions bunkers built by the US military in 1942.

John still climbs a ladder each year to check on 50 nesting boxes to see what effect climate change is having on the timing of egg laying.

He's recently authored a paper in the European Journal of Ecology about what humans might learn from the fate of feral populations of domesticated rabbits.






11:45 Lisa McMillan - Sharing food in the nude

The dress code for Lisa McMillan's experimental supper club is both simple and challenging - guests dine naked ( with the option of an apron for shy moments).

The Naked Dinner began in London and is now running in Auckland, offering good food and the company of unclothed strangers.

It's not everyone's cup of tea but Lisa says that those who do come "arrive nervous and leave liberated".

The next three events are coming up in August and early September - details here.

Lisa McMillan enjoying a Naked Dinner

Lisa McMillan enjoying a Naked Dinner Photo: Supplied / Peter Cadman


Books mentioned in this episode:



by Simon Schama

ISBN: 9781471180095

Simon & Schuster UK 

Music played in this show

Artist: Jim White
Song: Static on he Radio
Played at: 8:35

Artist: Voices New Zealand
Song: Sweet was the song
Played at:10:06

Artist: Voices New Zealand
Song: Nova, Nova
Played at:10:23

Artist: Mattiel
Song: Keep the Change
Played at: 10:39