Navigation for Sunday Morning


8:11 Professor Gary McLean on the new 'Omicron' variant 

New Zealander Dr Gary McLean is back with us on Sunday Morning to look at the latest Covid-19 developments.
Professor McLean will discuss the spread of the dangerous new 'Omicron' strain (and its 32 different mutations), why vaccines aren't doing all we first expected them to do, how a new booster every six months might be the best course of action for the next few years, and how we all need to get used to Covid, like influenza, as a constant presence in our lives.   

Gary McLean

Gary McLean Photo: Supplied

8:39 The Weekend Panel with Ali Jones and Dr Chris Gallavin  

Joining us on the Weekend Panel this morning are PR consultant Ali Jones and Dr Chris Gallavin, who is chief executive of the Sisters of Compassion Group. Among other topics, they'll be discussing who can lead the National party out of the darkness, increasing levels of community violence, the human rights issues with our new traffic lights, and will higher-rise housing be a solution or a new problem?

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Photo: 123rf

9:06 Mediawatch

This week Mediawatch looks back at the coverage of the sudden but not entirely unexpected fall of another opposition leader. Also - 100 years of radio raises awkward questions for experts - and do our media understand New Zealand's biggest protest movement right now?

Many protesters I listened to had confused ideas about vaccination. Some denied there even was a pandemic. Fear has reworked the world to oblate its cause. What appears to remain is a potent mix of anger verging on desperation.

Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

9:37 Meet Boji: Istanbul's transit-travelling wonder dog 

Istanbul is reported to be home to some 400,000 to 600,000 stray dogs and cats, hence why locals in Turkey's largest city sometimes refer to it as 'Catstanbul.' 
But it's the exploits of a local canine that's grabbing the headlines -- for all the right reasons -- at the moment. Boji is a street dog who came to the attention of municipal officers recently when he was seen catching rides around the city on its ferries, trams and subway cars. They took him in, gave him some health checks, and put a tracer collar on him so they could keep an eye on where he was and how far he was travelling (up to 30 kilometres a day). 
Now, Boji is a fully-blown local celebrity who has his own social media accounts and is loved by nearly everyone. 
Istanbul-based photographer Chris McGrath spent a day following Boji on his daily commutes.

Istanbul's wonder dog, Boji, uses the city's extensive public transport system (including its ferry services) daily, often travelling as far as 30km

Istanbul's wonder dog, Boji, uses the city's extensive public transport system (including its ferry services) daily, often travelling as far as 30km Photo: Getty Images/Chris McGrath

9:50 Epstein's crimes "loom large" in Maxwell trial 

Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of the late paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein, is about to go on trial in Manhattan for sex trafficking charges after 15 months on remand. 
Prosecutors allege Maxwell, 59, participated in illegal conduct against girls as young as 14, sex-trafficked them with Epstein, and lied about her actions. 
The British socialite, who could face a prison sentence of up to 80 years, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 
The trial, which is expected to last between three and six weeks, is scheduled to start on Monday (Tuesday NZ time). And while it's Maxwell facing the charges, Epstein, who died by suicide in prison in 2019, will be sharing centre stage.
Victoria Bekiempis is a New York-based journalist who is covering the trial for The Guardian

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

Photo: Screengrab / BBC

10:04 Ken Follett: 'I think about my characters when I go to sleep' 

Master storyteller Ken Follett is one of the best-selling authors of the past 50 years, with over 178 million sales of his 32 books in print.
The Welsh writer's latest book, Never, marks a return to the genre that marked the beginning of his career, the espionage novel. 
Set in modern day America, Never - Follett's first contemporary thriller in more than a decade - follows the story of a female President of the United States as she fights a global crisis that threatens to lead to a Third World War that few will survive. 
Follett, who spends a year researching and planning his books, joins the show to discuss Never and how he goes about his craft. 

Welsh author Ken Follett is one of the best-selling authors of the past 50 years.

Welsh author Ken Follett is one of the best-selling authors of the past 50 years. Photo: Supplied

10:36 My Current Song: Jackie B and The Mini Band, It's Christmas 

Kiwi country singer-songwriter Jackie Bristow is normally based in Nashville but she has been back in New Zealand since the first lockdown in 2020. 
With Covid putting a halt to her touring schedule, the Gore native was looking for things to do, so she started mentoring young musicians through her songwriting programme, SongCatcher. It was this initiative that led to the creation of Jackie B and The Mini Band, who have just released the first single from their debut EP, It's Christmas.    
Jackie is with us to talk about her innovative lockdown project and why those who warn about never working with children (or animals) have it all wrong. 

Jackie B and The Mind Band

Jackie B and The Mind Band Photo: Supplied

10:50 Richard Harman on 'Crusher' Collins' crash and burn  

Ex-National leader Judith Collins wrote the opening lines of her party leadership epitaph when she suddenly demoted rival Simon Bridges during the week, having accused him of "serious misconduct" at a party event five years ago. 
The backlash against the former opposition leader, who had endured months of poor polling, was swift, with a crisis caucus meeting quickly turning into a vote of no confidence that sealed Collins' fate. The hasty departure ended a 499-day tenure that saw the Papakura MP constantly struggle for relevance.
The new National leader will be selected on Tuesday, and will be the party's fourth in less than two years. 
Richard Harman is the editor of the Politik website and a former Chief TVNZ Political Correspondent. He's with us to look at 'Crusher' Collins' crash and burn, and what the National party needs to do now to bounce back.   

The Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins raises an eyebrow

The Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins raises an eyebrow Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

11:05 Untold Kiwi war stories brought to life 

Author Renée Hollis admits she was a bit overwhelmed by the response she received when she put out a call on RNZ National for listeners to send her untold stories, letters, diaries and photographs from World War II. 
The Dunedin writer received over 100 responses from families and the end result of her mammoth project (which at one stage included over one million words), Voices of World War II: New Zealanders Share Their Stories, has just been released in time for Christmas.
The visually stunning compendium of photos and written accounts offers a snapshot of what life was like before and during WWII, from the point of view of those who lived through it. 
Hollis joins the show to discuss Voices of World War and the incredible response she received from families with untold WWII stories. 

11:25 How brain magnets can help relieve depression 

Depression is the leading cause of disability around the world, with World Health Organisation global estimates suggesting that 5% of adults worldwide suffer in some way. 
Around half of those people with depression have treatment-resistant depression. But researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine say they are now able to treat depression in 80% of participants with treatment-resistant depression by stimulating their brains with magnets. And the treatment itself only takes five days to complete. 
Nolan Williams is the study's co-author and assistant professor of psychiatry at Stanford. He's with us to discuss the procedure, which is called Stanford Neuromodulation Therapy (SNT).

Dr. Nolan Williams is the Director of the Stanford Brain Stimulation Lab.

Dr. Nolan Williams is the Director of the Stanford Brain Stimulation Lab. Photo: Supplied/Stanford University

11:35 Forager of the foreshore: mudlarking on the River Thames 

There was a time when Mudlark-artist Nicola White was part of the high-pressure banking world in London, but she reached a point in her life when she wanted to do something she was really passionate about. 
Nicola had been casually 'mudlarking' on the River Thames for years, but around six years ago she decided to turn her hobby into a full time occupation. 
Nicola joins the show to discuss mudlarking, the art she makes from her finds, and some of the treasures and fascinating messages in bottles she's discovered over the years. 

Mudlark-artist Nicola White

Mudlark-artist Nicola White Photo: Credit: Simon Bourne