RNZ: Our Changing World

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Getting out in the field and the lab to bring you stories about science, nature and the environment.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-03-25 21:07
last episode published
2019-03-22 19:00
publication frequency
2.69 days
Radio New Zealand author   owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Science & Medicine



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Kotahitanga and kākāpō

Kākāpō chick numbers continue to climb. The latest tally is 64 chicks, including one named Kotahitanga, meaning unity and solidarity. Ep 14 of the Kākāpō Files.

Berkelium and the synthetic heavyweights

The heaviest elements on the periodic table have only ever existed fleetingly in the lab, so Allan Blackman from AUT has grouped them all together in episode 9 of Elemental.

Our Changing World for 21 March 2019

Barium is a chemical element that hates being on its own, and experts from Orana Park and Auckland Zoo are looking after hand-reared kakapo chicks.

Barium - never found on its own

Barium is never found on its own in nature, as it loves buddying up - but a version of it is found in hospitals. Allan Blackman from AUT reveals barium's secrets in episode 8 of Elemental.

Fat happy kākāpō chicks

Thirty four kākāpō chicks are putting on plenty of weight in wild nests as the rimu fruit ripens, and 23 chicks are also being hand-reared, in episode 13 of the Kākāpō Files.

Astatine - awfully rare

No one has ever seen astatine, which shares the distinction of being one of the rarest naturally-occurring elements on earth. Find out more with Allan Blackman from AUT in episode 7 of Elemental.

Crime-busting software package wins PM's Science Prize

An ESR software package that analyses complex crime scene samples containing DNA from multiple people, has won the 2018 Prime Minister's Science Prize.

We need to talk about climate change, says science prize winner

James Renwick loves talking about the science underlying climate change, and this willingness has won him the 2018 Prime Minister's Science Communication Prize.

Young physicist wins the PM's Future Scientist Prize

Modelling granular materials such as corn and salt has earned Onslow College physics student Finn Messerli the school's third Prime Minister's Future Scientist Award.

Our Changing World for 14 March 2018

The 2018 Prime Minister's Science prizes have gone to crime-busting software, a climate change communicator and a young physicist.

Arsenic - the well-known poison

Arsenic is a well-known killer that was once dubbed 'succession powder'. Join Allan Blackman from AUT in 8 episode of Elemental, a journey through the periodic table.

Argon - every breath you take

Argon is in every breath you take and its inertness is its best feature, as we discover with AUT chemistry professor Allan Blackman, in episode 5 of Elemental.

Bull kelp genes and earthquake uplift - a surprising connection

New research shows that bull kelp along a tectonically uplifted stretch of coast south of Dunedin has a surprisingly different genetic signature to the kelp on either side.

Our Changing World for 7 March 2019

We've a story about bull kelp and earthquake uplift for Seaweek, and we meet some volunteer kakapo helpers.

Kākāpō helpers

Volunteers from around the world are helping the kākāpō team, with tasks ranging from feeding birds and people, looking after the power system on Whenua Hou and studying kākāpō sperm. We meet them in episode 12 of the Kākāpō Files.

Antimony - takes lives, saves lives

Antimony can be used to take lives - and to save lives. Check out episode 4 of Elemental with Professor Allan Blackman from AUT.

Kākāpō rangers

There is a hard-working team of island rangers helping save kākāpō, working day and night, and the chick tally has reached 44, in episode 11 of the Kākāpā Files.

Our Changing World for 28 February 2019

Professor Allan Blackman from AUT explores the chemical elements actinium and americium, and the Kakapo Files podcast catches up with the work of the island rangers.

Americium - a radioactive, domestic do-gooder

Invented during war, radioactive americium has become a bit of a do-gooder that is in most homes. Find out more with AUT's Allan Blackman in episode 3 of Elemental.

Aluminium - light & versatile

Aluminium is a light, well-known metal with lots of useful properties. Join AUT chemistry professor Allan Blackman for episode 2 of Elemental.


The first alphabetical element in the periodic table is actinium. It is a heavy radioactive element, as we discover in episode 1 of Elemental, with Professor Allan Blackman from AUT.

Plastic pollution in streams - a citizen science effort

NIWA freshwater scientist Amanda Valois is co-opting citizen scientists to work out where plastic rubbish in streams is coming from.

Our Changing World for 21 February 2019

A citizen science project on plastic pollution in streams and flying kakapo sperm takes to the air.

Flying kākāpō sperm

In a world-first for kākāpō conservation, a drone (nicknamed the 'spermcopter') has flown kākāpō sperm across Whenua Hou / Codfish Island - the Kākāpō Files was there for episode 10.

Tales from the periodic table

In the prequel to Elemental, Allan Blackman introduces us to Dmitri Mendeleev and chemistry's periodic table of elements.

Fush 'n' chups and the Kiwi accent

The distinctive New Zealand accent and why young women lead the way in the evolution of a uniquely Kiwi way of talking.

Our Changing World for 14 February 2019

The evolution of the Kiwi accent, and many more kakapo eggs and chicks.

On the island

More than 160 kākāpō eggs have been laid and the first 21 chicks have hatched, but there is also news of the first chick death, in episode 9 of the Kākāpō Files.

Archey's frogs thriving in the King Country

The King Country population of the highly threatened Archey's frog is thriving, thanks to years of rat control.

Our Changing World for 7 February 2019

Archey's frogs are thriving thanks to rat control, and the first kakapo chicks have hatched and their mothers are mating again.

Round two begins

The chicks that have hatched are off to Dunedin, the females have started mating again, and there is breeding action on Hauturu, all in episode 8 of the Kākāpō Files.

Squishy drug delivery

An octopus squeezing through a small space and a squishy ball have inspired a new way of delivering drugs through the skin that is being developed at the University of Otago.

Our Changing World for 31 January 2019

How to squish drugs through the skin using nanotechnology, and keeping up with the kakapo.

The chicks are hatching

The first two chicks of the 2019 kākāpō breeding season have hatched and the exciting news keeps coming in, in episode 7 of the Kākāpō Files.

Full House

Forty eight out of fifty kākāpō females on the southern islands have mated, nesting is well underway and the first AI has been carried out, all in episode 6 of the Kākāpō Files.

'Fish ear bones are like a diary'

Fish ear bones are tiny treasure troves of information about a fish's life, its environment and even local weather.

Our Changing World for 24 January 2019

Fish earbones are tiny treasure troves of information about a fish's life and where it lives, and catching up on all the kakapo breeding action in the first month of the Kakapo Files podcast.

Super-studs & hitting the reset button

The most popular kākāpō males will get a chance to do it all over again as the females are encouraged to mate and nest for a second time, in episode 5 of the Kākāpō Files.

Our relationship with urban green spaces

Otago University science communication student Karthic Sivanandham investigates urban nature and how we relate to it.

Sounds of science - a new Our Changing World theme

Our brand-new 2019 opening theme is made from 20 eclectic sounds of science & nature that have featured on Our Changing World, ranging from birds to robots.

Action stations

Don't count your kākāpō chicks until they hatch, kākāpō leaky homes and lots more kākāpō sex, all in episode 4 of the Kākāpō Files

Woof Woof the talking tui

Woof Woof the talking tui inspired University of Otago student Joel Zwartz to find out how birds and people talk.

Busy birds

Kākāpō breeding action really kicked off on Christmas Eve and in episode 3 of the Kākāpō Files we discover it is in full swing.

Never ask a boy 'why?'

Science communication student Mary Rabbidge takes a look at the brains of teenage boys, to find out why they behave the way they do.

Early birds

In episode 2 of the Kākāpō Files we find out that when it comes to kākāpō breeding the early birds are, well, very early.

Kākāpō - night parrot

The kākāpō is one of the world's rarest birds, and in the first episode of the Kākāpō Files we learn about the giant flightless parrot's 'love triangle.'

Salps - a surprising jelly-like relative

The 'jelly soup' that many New Zealanders experienced at the beach last summer was caused by blooms of salps.

The good side of pain

An accidental encounter with the tree nettle, ongaonga, and some self experimentation may lead to a new pain treatment.

Our Changing World for 20 December 2018

Salps are a little known but important part of the ocean's plankton, and self-experimenting with the painful stinging nettle, ongaonga.

NZ falcons thriving in logged pine plantations

Rare native New Zealand falcons are thriving in some unexpected places, including recently logged pine forests.