Navigation for Sunday Morning

7:10 Professor Michael Baker: 'Dangerous period ahead for NZ'  

It's Christmas and everyone is feeling suitably festive after what has been the most trying of years, but now is not the time to let our guard down against the omnipresent threat of Covid-19. That's the warning from public health physician Professor Michael Baker, who has been a constant and reassuring voice on Sunday Morning throughout 2020. He says we must remain vigilant as the pandemic continues to ramp up globally.   

Professor Michael Baker

Professor Michael Baker Photo: Supplied

7:23 Relief for Kiwi in Italy as Covid spike dissipates

We first caught up with Kiwi expat Jackie Miller in Liguria, Italy, for our Calling Home segment in February 2020, when she heaped praise on the Italian health system. Little did anyone know that within weeks that health system would be pushed to its absolute limits when the Covid-19 pandemic reared its head. Jackie returns for an update on life in a Covid-19 danger zone.

New Zealander Jackie Miller lives and works in the Liguria region in Italy.

New Zealander Jackie Miller lives and works in the Liguria region in Italy. Photo: Supplied

7:32 Calling Home: Melanie Dower in Helsinki

Despite the often beautiful weather, many New Zealanders still like to celebrate Christmas here much as they do in the northern hemisphere, with a glazed ham, comforting puddings and Christmas cards adorned with pictures of robins in snowy landscapes. In Finland though, it's the real thing. Reindeer, snow and mulled wine ... and that's where New Zealander Melanie Dower is Calling Home from.

8:11 Can you test your heart health by climbing stairs?

New research presented at a scientific congress of European Society of Cardiology suggests that climbing four flights of stairs in less than a minute indicates good heart health. Dr. Gerry Devlin is a cardiologist and the Heart Foundation's Medical Director. He offers his thoughts on the stair climb findings and shares a few heart health tips ahead of the festive season.

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Photo: 123rf

8:20 The world's first ever Christmas song for dogs

It's nothing new to see Christmas songs entering the music charts at this time of the year, but a UK company recently recorded a world first with the release of 'Raise the Woof' -- a Christmas song scientifically designed for dogs. Animal behaviourist Carolyn Menteith analysed the reactions of dogs listening to the track to make sure it struck a chord with our K9 friends.

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Photo: Public domain pictures

8:41 The Weekend Panel with Bernard Hickey and Linda Clark 

It's the last Weekend Panel for 2020, and we're joined by Linda Clark and Bernard Hickey to look back on what can only be described as one of the most forgettable years in living history. Today, they'll be looking closely at housing in New Zealand, the trans-Tasman bubble, the new gun buyback scheme and the value of hosting the America's Cup in Auckland. 

An auction sign outside a house for sale in Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

9:06 Mediawatch

Mediawatch looks at how our news media stepped up in 2020 - but also contradicted the collective effort to crush Covid. Also  - Mediawatch talks to the Kiwi founder of a global media business that boomed during the Covid crisis.

People line up for a Covid-19 coronavirus testing at Mona Vale Hospital in Sydney on December 18, 2020. (Photo by Steven Saphore / AFP)

Photo: AFP

9:37 How wine and cheese can boost your brain

It's the festive season and people are looking forward to indulging, so that means lots of wine and cheese for lots of people. But It turns out that this might not be all bad, with new research out of Iowa State University showing that consumption of wine (especially red) and cheese can actually boost your brain. The study's lead author Dr. Auriel Willette is with us to look over its findings.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

9:50 A Christmas like no other in Bethlehem  

New Zealander Brother Peter Bray is the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, the first university established in Palestine and the only Catholic University in the Holy Land. They're preparing for the biggest day of the year in the little town of Bethlehem, off the back of a year that has been like no other before.

Brother Peter Bray in Manger Square, Bethlehem

Brother Peter Bray in Manger Square, Bethlehem Photo: Supplied

10:06 'We've never seen year like this in modern American history' 

What a year it has been in America. Joining us to assess it is our US correspondent Karen Kasler, a chronicler of many political campaigns and conventions, and an award-winning journalist. Karen joins the show to look back on 2020, and warns that many of the problems the US has faced this year aren't going to go away anytime soon.  

Supporters of US President Donald Trump participate in the “Million MAGA March”  to protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, in front of the US Capitol on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)

Supporters of US President Donald Trump participate in the “Million MAGA March” to protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, in front of the US Capitol on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) Photo: AFP or licensors

10:25 From the Covid-19 frying pan into the fire

Dr. Anna Dare was Chief Resident at the Trauma Surgery service at Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital, but when we caught up with her earlier this year she had been redeployed to the ICU to look after the hospital's sickest Covid-19 patients. Now, she is in New York, working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, and caught up in another huge spike. She joins the show to reflect on a year that has seen her not only lose patients to the virus, but colleagues as well.

Dr Anna Dare

Dr Anna Dare Photo: Supplied

10:34 My Xmas Song: Dino Jag, 'Christmas Day' 

South Australian singer-songwriter Dion Jag had been meaning to write a Christmas song for years, but it took a pandemic to lock him down in his home studio for long enough to finally get one over the line. He wants people to jump on board and celebrate the feeling of joy together while they're listening to the track, 'Christmas Day.' 

Musician Dino Jag

Musician Dino Jag Photo: Supplied

10:41 Discovering the true power of trees

Tree Beings is an adventure through the secret world of trees and a reminder of how essential they are to our world. With a foreword by Jane Goodall, the book highlights the mysteries of the world's oldest living things and introduces the reader to the scientists and explorers who helped uncover their mysteries. Author Raymond Huber joins the show from his base in Dunedin.

Author Raymond Huber.

Author Raymond Huber. Photo: Supplied

11:05 My Xmas Song: Emma G, 'You Can Count On Me This Christmas' 

Washington DC-based Kiwi artist Emma G has remained busy as always in 2020, despite everything that has been going on around her. Emma's new song, 'You Can Count On Me This Christmas' is her 10th release of the year, having released a fully produced single every six weeks throughout 2020. And she's just released her first book, My Life, My Songs, My Healing. 

Emma G

Emma G Photo: supplied

11:17 Battles continue for NZ Long Covid sufferers 

As the Covid year got longer, we heard about Long Covid, and the people who get through the illness phase okay, but for whom health issues still linger. Entrepreneur Jenene Crossan was one of those unfortunate cases - Covid-free but not free from the after-effects of Covid. She remains at the forefront of the battle for Kiwi Long Covid sufferers 

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Photo: RNZ

11:25 Eric Weiner: Life lessons from the Dead Philosophers' Society  

In his new book, The Socrates Express, author and self-described 'philosophical entertainer' Eric Weiner goes in search of life lessons from dead philosophers. He joins the show to discuss the book - which highlights philosophers and the specific lessons we can draw from their teachings - and why we need to look to philosophy in these troubling times.

Author Eric Weiner

Author Eric Weiner Photo: The Washington Post