08:15 Amy Goldstein: COVID-19 in the Land of the Free

After forging a destructive path through Asia and Europe, COVID-19 has taken hold in the US: the country’s transmission numbers have rapidly outstripped previous hotspots like China, Italy and Spain. And despite some isolated glimmers of hope, few people believe that the disease can quickly be brought under control.

The exponential growth in the number of cases and deaths in cities like New York, Detroit and New Orleans, has the health system struggling to cope.

Meanwhile critics of the US government’s approach bemoan a lackadaisical approach to testing, and to enforcing social distancing measures to control the disease’s spread.

That’s on top of a shortage of intensive care beds, of critical medical equipment like ventilators, and of basic protective gear like face masks and gloves.

We're joined by The Washington Post's health policy reporter Amy Goldstein to discuss the immediate and long-term effects of the virus Stateside. 

Washington Post staff writer Amy Goldstein

Washington Post staff writer Amy Goldstein Photo: The Washington Post


08:35 Colin Thubron: travel writing off the beaten track

Colin Thubron

Colin Thubron Photo: Supplied

The acclaimed travel writer and novelist Colin Thubron was due to arrive in New Zealand for the Auckland Writers’ Festival next month. He’s been here before, travelling around the North and South Islands by motorbike back in 1965.

His latest trip, of course, has now been derailed by coronavirus, along with all other global travel for what looks like an extended period.

All this might come as a blow to Thubron who over his career has amassed air miles aplenty travelling to far flung and rarely visited corners of the globe.

His serial odysseys have been the subject of 15 travel books and counting: these have largely focussed on Russia, Central Asia and China and include Mirror to Damascus (1967), Among the Russians (1982), Shadow of the Silk Road (2006), and To A Mountain in Tibet (2011).

His work has seen him selected by The Times as one of the 50 greatest post-war British writers. He’s about to finish his latest book all about the world's tenth longest river; the nearly 3,000 kilometre long (but rarely heard of) Amur River on the border of Russia and China.


09:10 Chris Smith: COVID-19 science

Dr Chris Smith, consultant clinical virologist at Cambridge University and one of BBC Radio 5 Live's Naked Scientists, is back with the latest science about COVID-19 and its spread. Among the topics we’ll be discussing this week: the risk of "flare-ups", an explanation of what "viral load" means, and whether you should hold your breath when you pass someone on the street.

the Whanau Centre testing clinic in Henderson lead by the Waipareira Trust

Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook


09:30 Whaitiri Poutawa: The "Maori Thor" bringing kapa haka online

When the idea of a lockdown was being considered, kapa haka teacher Whaitiri Poutawa got worried he’d have too much spare time and not enough to do. 

So, he brought his energetic, humour-filled classes to facebook - where they’ve attracted tens of thousands of viewers from around the world. 

Whaitiri joins us to talk about the philosophy behind his work, kapa haka as therapy, and why his students call him “Mr Thunder”.

Whaitiri Poutawa

Whaitiri Poutawa Photo: Screenshot/Facebook


10:10 Ken Burns: doco director's epic histories

American documentary maker Ken Burns is best known for his sweeping, epic historical documentary series including The Civil War (1990), Jazz (2001), The War (2007), Prohibition (2011), The Roosevelts (2014), and The Vietnam War (2017). 

He’s earned two Academy Award nominations and is the winner of several Emmy Awards, among other honours. He even has a visual cinematographic technique named after him! The ‘Ken Burns Effect’ uses panning and zooming in the production process to embed still photographs into motion pictures to give them a more dynamic appearance.

Ken Burns

Ken Burns Photo: Supplied/Evan Barlow


11:10 Trent Dalton: Tales from the Bunker

Boy Swallows Universe author Trent Dalton was due to bring out his keenly awaited new novel All Our Shimmering Skies in June. 

The upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic has put paid to that, with the release pushed back to the end of September. 

In the meantime Dalton, a feature writer for The Weekend Australian, has started writing Tales From The Bunker, a collection of  stories celebrating the power of the human spirit during these hard times.

Trent Dalton and the cover of his book "Boy Swallows Universe"

Trent Dalton Photo: supplied / Russell Shakespeare


11:30 Tangaroa Walker: Dairy farming during lockdown

Tekauenga Walker helping out on the farm

Tekauenga Walker helping out on the farm Photo: supplied / Facebook/Farm4Life

Southland contract milker Tangaroa Walker is a popular social media presence with his Facebook page Farm 4 Life, where he posts educational and earthy videos of daily life on a dairy farm.

He's also started a mental wellness series called "Mask off Monday" and runs a gym and free diving venture.

In November he became a dad, with baby Tekauenga already being lined up as a future helper on the farm.

Now classed as an essential worker in the lockdown economy, we see how Tangaroa's bubble is doing and what social distancing looks and feels like on a farm.

Tangaroa Walker

Tangaroa Walker Photo: supplied / Facebook/Farm4Life


11:40 Gregory O'Brien: poetry in isolation

Poet and author Gregory O'Brien

Poet and author Gregory O'Brien Photo: Supplied/Gregory O'Brien

Could all this isolation be sparking a flowering of the nation’s poetic creativity?!

Certainly if the Saturday Morning inbox (sample size: 1) is any guide there’s never been such an outpouring of poetry. So could the experience of self isolation perhaps be the key?! 

The author, artist, and poet Gregory O'Brien reckons poets are isolation specialists by nature, and New Zealand poetry is full of great self reflective moments. 

Although heading into the wilderness on foot or by bike isn’t to be encouraged at the moment there’s a long line of poets, from Allen Curnow to Keri Hulme, from James K. Baxter to Janet Frame, who have found inspiration and solace in being alone, inside and out.

Here's the link to Monte Holcroft's tribute to Ruth France that Kim and Greg will discuss

Books and poems referred to:

No Traveller Returns, The Selected Poems of Ruth France (Cold Hub Press)

Selected Poems: Brian Turner (VUP)

The Silences Between (Moeraki Conversations) by Keri Hulme (AUP/Janus Press)

Collected Poems: Ursula Bethell (VUP)

Selected Poems: Eileen Duggan (VUP Classic)

Selected Poems: Denis Glover (VUP)

Tribute to Ruth France by Monte Holcroft.





Music played in this show

Song: Kia Mau Ki To Kuaipo/Don't Forget Your Roots
Played at 8:05

Song: Jesus the Missing Years
Artist: John Prine
Played at 9:05

Song: Where is My Mind
Artist: Pixies
Played at 11:05

Song: Bridge of Stories
Artist: Matt Hawkins
Played at 11:30

Song: Ce Matin-la
Artist: Air
Played at 11:45