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Our Changing World


Kia ora,

What a year huh?

Our world changed in so many ways it’s hard to list – we had delta and omicron, a helicopter was flown on Mars, CRISPR was used to edit genes directly inside the body, the climate continued to change, and at COP26 196 countries agreed on the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Our Changing World changed too, after more than 12 years in the role, in May 2021 Alison Ballance retired as producer and presenter of the show, replaced by Claire Concannon.

But what’s the end of year without some retrospective lists? Here are a few of the 'most-listened to' of 2021.

First, the beautiful, final field-based episode that Alison produced– More seabirds for Mana Island which tells the story of the translocation and care of hundreds of white-faced storm petrel chicks to the island.

And if you are looking for more light, summer time driving audio to listen to, the natural history episodes making the top this year include:

In search of what is out there – A marine megafauna expedition way off the coast of Northland finds more than they expected. With original music that incorporates hydrophone recordings of sperm whales, dolphins and false killer whales, it’s a sound-rich celebration of the ocean.

The kākā’s return – Unlike Zealandia’s success with kākā, Dunedin’s Orokonui Ecosanctuary population has had a bit of a rollarcoaster ride. Listen to the highs and lows, the hopes and the plans for the future of South Island kākā in this area.

Conservation communities – Communities getting behind a conservation cause! Volunteers in Charlesworth Reserve take care of a rare and threatened plant while the Catlins community celebrates putting pekapeka on the map.

Breaking down bird song – Baby songbirds babble just like humans, and learn from those around them. Why do they choose some tunes over others? What drives this evolution of songs? And why has female birdsong long been overlooked? Listen to researchers looking to answer these questions.

Wading into mangrove research – Around the world tropical mangroves are being protected to prevent their demise. In Aotearoa consents to remove native temperate mangroves are being issued. Is this wrong? Is this right? Or is it more complicated than that....

Other topics also hit the most-listened to list.

In a year that continued to be dominated by Covid-19 and vaccine chatter, A new way to make vaccines includes a musical explanation of how information flows though the cell, and how mRNA vaccines tap into this.  

This year’s crowdless Olympics prompted much discussion around athletes’ mental health. Mind Games explores what impact crowds can have on performance, and how adventure sports athletes get ‘in the zone’, while Running low on energy discusses the complexity behind a syndrome where athletes consistently take in less calories than they need.

Maths and physics have been getting some love from listeners too. Crafty Mathematics tells stories of using maths to understand the heart and crafts to understand maths, while Physics on ice explores physics research taking place on, under, and within the Antarctic ice.

Keen to line up some series for a long journey?

The award winning Voices from Antarctica and Fight for the Wild podcasts are must-listens.

Plus, with record rimu counts reported on Whenua Hou and Anchor Islands, it looks set to be another bumper kākāpō breeding season – be ready by listening back to what happened during the 2019 season in the 8-part Voice of the Kākāpō collection.

Wishing you a wonderful, relaxing and happy summer. And all the very best for 2022.

Ngā mihi nui,
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Voices from Antarctica. Alison Ballance finds out what it takes to live in and do science in Antarctica.
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Fight for the Wild. Podcast series exploring the notion of Predator Free 2050 in Aotearoa.
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