Chernobyl dog

Chernobyl dog Photo: supplied / Clean Futures Fund

8:10 The dogs of Chernobyl: Lucas Hixson

Lucas Hixson

Lucas Hixson Photo: supplied / Clean Futures Fund

For the past 7 years radiation specialist Lucas Hixson has been working at the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear reactors in Ukraine.

In 1986 an accident at the former Soviet nuclear plant killed 31 people immediately, and thousands more from the health impacts of long term radiation exposure.

When Hixson first arrived there he was struck by the sight of hundreds of stray dogs that the other workers were feeding.

These dogs, living in harsh conditions and preyed upon by wolves, are the offspring of pets abandoned when people were evacuated from the area.

Hixson now does his best to feed and care for them; through his adoption and sterilisation efforts he has reduced the total dog population living there from 1,000 to about 500, and he does popular online tours giving people around the world a glimpse inside his work.

There's a fundraising page for the dogs here.


8:35 US wastewater testing reveals extent of asymptomatic Covid-19 spread

Molecular virologist Arvind Varsani and evolutionary virologist Simona Kraberger are expat New Zealanders working at Arizona State University.

During the coronavirus pandemic they've been using genetic tracing techniques to test wastewater to show community spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Using wastewater samples collected across 10 US states, they have detected variants of the viral sequence that have been missed through conventional clinical testing.

They think this is due to high rates of asymptomatic spread (infected individuals showing little to no symptoms who still spread the virus).

Their work is also revealing valuable information about when, where and how the disease spreads between different locations.

Here in New Zealand The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) is currently conducting a two month trial sampling wastewater from places with and without managed isolation facilities nearby.

Simona Kraberger  and Arvind Varsani in the lab

Simona Kraberger and Arvind Varsani in the lab Photo: supplied

9:05 Giff Johnson: The legacy of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands

Giff Johnson

Giff Johnson Photo: Fanny Moulin/Yokwé Films

During the 1940s and 50s the US detonated 67 nuclear bombs on, in and above the Marshall Islands as part of its Cold War nuclear testing programme.

The Marshall Islands are two chains of 29 coral atolls in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Papua New Guinea and Hawaii.

At the time, whole islands ceased to exist, hundreds of native Marshallese had to be relocated off their home islands and many were affected by fallout from the testing.

The Marshallese continue to campaign for adequate compensation from the U.S.

Runit Dome, on Enewetak Atoll, houses 88,000 square metres of contaminated soil and debris, and has recently received media attention due to cracking and the threat from rising sea levels.

Giff Johnson is the editor of The Marshall Islands Journal, correspondent for Radio New Zealand and runs the Facebook page "Marshall Islands Nuclear News".

He's experienced the unfolding legacy of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands first hand. His wife Darlene Keju, an outspoken advocate for test victims and nuclear survivors, herself died of cancer in 1996.

Johnson has written a book about her called Don't Ever Whisper.

9:35 Denis Glover's life in letters: Sarah Shieff

Sarah Shieff

Sarah Shieff Photo: supplied

"Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle" - many New Zealanders know Denis Glover as the author of the iconic poem "The Magpies".

The late poet, printer and publisher also left behind a tarnished personal legacy, of womanising, drinking and a chaotic private life.

Sarah Shieff is hoping to widen our understanding of Glover beyond his flaws to include his wit, gift for friendship, and his bravery.

She's spent over 7 years reviewing thousands of his letters and has selected a few hundred to tell his story in a soon-to-be-released collection Letters of Denis Glover (Otago University Press).

Sarah Shieff is an Associate Professor at the University of Waikato and for a decade edited the Journal of New Zealand Literature.

Her previous books including Talking Music: Conversations with New Zealand musicians and Letters of Frank Sargeson.

Detail from the cover of "Letters of Denis Glover"

Detail from the cover of "Letters of Denis Glover" Photo: supplied

10:05 Benjamin Ferencz: last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials

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Photo: supplied

100-year-old Benjamin Ferencz is a lawyer, writer, thinker and pacifist who investigated Nazi war crimes after the Second World War, and is the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

He was chief prosecutor for the US Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial, one of the 12 military trials held by the U.S. authorities at Nuremberg in Germany from November 1945 to October 1946.

He later became an advocate for the establishment of an International Criminal Court to make war criminals accountable for their actions.

In his book Parting Words: 9 Lessons for a Remarkable Life he shares his extraordinary life story and some of the things he has learned along the way.

He was also the subject of the 2018 documentary Prosecuting Evil.

11:05 TEEKS has got soul

Northland-based soul singer TEEKS aka Te Karehana Gardiner-Toi (Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui) seems on the expressway to success.

His 2017 debut EP The Grapefruit Skies was met with critical acclaim.

This year American fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue branded him as one of the music industry’s “most promising talents”.

He's currently on a sold out tour of New Zealand and his first full length album Something To Feel, is dropping in February.

He'll share a few tracks from the new album with us.

TEEKS (Supplied/Sony Music)

TEEKS (Supplied/Sony Music) Photo: Supplied

11:40 Kate's Klassics: Isabel Colgate's Orlando King

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Photo: supplied

Poet and writer Kate Camp returns to discuss a historic work of classic literature - this week it's Orlando King by Isabel Colgate.

Written in 1968, the novel follows a charismatic young man trying to make his way in politics in inter-war London.

It's been described as bildungsroman, Greek tragedy and political saga all rolled into one.

And Bloomsbury Publishing have recently republished the Orlando King trilogy in a single volume. More details here.

Kate Camp's latest poetry collection is called How to Be Happy Though Human: New and Selected Poems (Victoria University Press).


Books mentioned in this show:

Letters of Denis Glover
Selected and edited by Sarah Shieff
ISBN 9781988592541
Published by Otago University Press

Parting Words: 9 Lessons for a Remarkable Life
by Benjamin Ferencz
ISBN: 9780751579918
Published by Hachette

Orlando King
By: Isabel Colgate
Published by Bloomsbury