Our Changing World



Stories about science and nature from out in the field and inside the labs across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Winner 2022 New Zealand Radio Awards Best Factual Podcast - Episodic

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1130 episodes

New Zealand’s Antipodes Islands – remote, wild, and special

An ambitious project to rid the remote Antipodes Island of introduced mice proved successful in 2018. Claire Concannon visits the spectacular subantarctic island to meet the locals â€" from penguins to megaherbs â€" and the people studying the wildlife. Plus, we learn about what's at stake in the next island eradication challenge for New Zealand.

Feb 14
Pollen, asthma and allergies

Allergenic pollen is a big trigger for New Zealand’s high rates of hay fever and asthma. But for 35 years, we’ve had no current data on pollen levels. Until now. Justin Gregory talks to a team who want to change that.

Jan 31
Restoring Wellington’s seaweed forests

Giant kelp is disappearing from Wellington Harbour. Love Rimurimu is aiming to restore lush underwater kelp forests with an ambitious and collaborative replanting effort. Claire Concannon dives in to the wonderful world of seaweeds.

Jan 24
Summer science: AI and medicinal cannabis

In the final instalment of the summer science series, science communication students tackle two controversial topics: medicinal cannabis, and AI consciousness.

Jan 17
Summer science: Hybrid wildlife and mātauranga Māori

Should we intervene to prevent hybridisation between an endangered species and its common relative? In this week's summer science episode, two students from the Department of Science Communication at the University of Otago tell stories of science controversy: the conservation conundrum of hybrids, and the relationship between western science and mātauranga Māori.

Jan 10
Summer science: Kākā in Wellington

Kākā numbers are skyrocketing in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington thanks to conservation efforts. The summer science series continues with a walk through Zealandia to find out why you shouldn't feed these inquisitive parrots.

Jan 03
Summer science: Seabirds in Auckland

The summer science fun continues with an episode from RNZ podcast Voices. Meet Gaia Dell'Arriccia, a scientist originally from the south of France who studies the seabirds that live around Auckland's coastlines.

Jan 03
Summer science: Death rays and radio inventions

The summer science series kicks off with an episode from award-winning podcast Black Sheep, about a backyard inventor called Victor Penny who sparked sensational headlines about death ray inventions in 1935.

Dec 27, 2023
The giant dinosaurs of Patagonia… and maybe Aotearoa?

This week on Our Changing World RNZ podcast producer, and occasional dinosaur correspondent William Ray visits Ngā Taniwha o Rūpapa Dinosaurs of Patagonia, a special exhibition at Te Papa Museum to discover the surprising link between the giant dinosaurs of Patagonia, and prehistoric New Zealand.

Dec 20, 2023
Underwater slips and slides

Off the coast of New Zealand, deep underwater, the seafloor shifts in landslides and slow-motion earthquakes. Claire Concannon meets two researchers investigating geological phenomena that could pose a tsunami risk to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dec 13, 2023
On alert – the National Geohazard Monitoring Centre

Go behind the scenes at the National Geohazard Monitoring Centre, where a team of analysts are on alert 24/7 for earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis and landslides. What happens when a natural disaster strikes?

Dec 06, 2023
Monitoring the Makarora mohua

Mohua are bright yellow forest birds – but despite their eye-catching plumage, they can be tricky to spot flitting high in the forest canopy. Claire Concannon visits the Makarora mohua population, where a team of conservationists and scientists are testing acoustic machine learning to identify individual birds.

Nov 29, 2023
A new way to help honey bees

Varroa mite parasites cause major problems for honey bees – and beekeepers. Now, New Zealand researchers are investigating a new type of RNA-based treatment that could make treating varroa mite infestations easier, as well as better for the bees and the environment.

Nov 22, 2023
OCW recommends: The Turning Point

New video series: A turning point in the fight to preserve Aotearoa's natural environment.

Nov 19, 2023
Plasma rockets in space

Claire Concannon meets GERALDINE, the Gigantic and Extremely Radical Atmosphere-Lacking Device for Interesting and Novel Experimentation. Plus, a team of scientists and engineers designing plasma rocket thrusters for space travel with super-conducting magnets.

Nov 15, 2023
Helping to revitalise Moriori culture

A Moriori musician, an ethnomusicologist and the Hokotehi Moriori Trust are part of a team helping to revitalise Moriori culture with 3D-printed replicas of traditional bone flutes from Rēkohu the Chatham Islands. Claire Concannon finds out more about the Moriori, music and manawa project.

Nov 08, 2023
Forecasting in changing times

In the last week, Hurricane Otis hit southern Mexico with little warning, and Cyclone Lola set a record for the earliest category five cyclone in the southern hemisphere. Climate change is making work tricky for weather forecasters. What might be in store for our upcoming El Niño summer?

Nov 01, 2023
The potential of plankton

Could your burger one day come with a plankton patty? Alison Ballance visits the Cawthron Institute's collection of more than 750 different strains of microalgae, where scientists are investigating these teeny organisms for new food ingredients and powerful painkillers.

Oct 25, 2023
Life in the fast and slow lanes of braided rivers

In the ever-shifting streams and channels of a braided river, creatures must adapt to change. Claire Concannon joins a researcher on the spectacular Cass River near Tekapo for a spot of electrofishing and bird counting – part of a project seeking to understand this complex ecosystem and the threats it faces.

Oct 18, 2023
Why are penguins so cool?

Giant penguins weighing up to 150 kilograms once roamed the waters around New Zealand. Claire Concannon speaks to a palaeontologist and learns about penguin evolution, extinct species that dwarfed today's emperors, and why Aotearoa is such a great place to study these birds that 'fly' through the water.

Oct 11, 2023
Muscles young and old

What happens to our muscles as we age? Claire Concannon finds out why muscles get weaker as we get older, and speaks with a researcher investigating why Olympic athletes live up to three years longer than the general population. Claire also meets a scientist studying what happens to muscles in children with cerebral palsy, seeking clues that could help.

Oct 04, 2023
Dotterels: The Southland underdog

The southern New Zealand dotterel is a true underdog of the bird world, with just 126 individuals at last population estimate. Claire Concannon tags along with a team of researchers attaching trackers to the birds. Their mission is to figure out where the dotterels go to breed, so these "plump little tomatoes" can be protected from introduced predators.

Sep 27, 2023
The recipe for food pairing

Broccoli and chocolate. Prawns and vanilla. According to food pairing theory, these culinary matches should go together as well as macaroni and cheese, or peanut butter and jam. But do they really? Senior producer Justin Gregory meets two researchers digging into the sensory science of food.

Sep 20, 2023
The Great Ireland vs New Zealand Bird-off: Part 2

The Great Ireland vs. New Zealand Bird-off returns for part 2 to decide once and for all which island nation boasts the best birds. Our avian aficionados return to argue their case in front of judge Claire Concannon. Who will fly to victory? Listen to find out – plus learn about the crazy life cycle of the cuckoo and the weird feathers of the kiwi, among many fascinating facts and tales from the world of birds.

Sep 13, 2023
The great Ireland vs. New Zealand bird-off: Part 1

Welcome to the great Ireland vs New Zealand bird-off. Two islands, a world apart – but which country has the better birds? Two bird nerds champion their nation's birds across four categories in an avian battle for the ages, with Claire Concannon judging the best of the feathered best. Which country will emerge victorious? Listen to find out.

Sep 06, 2023
Retraining the tinnitus brain

We’ve probably all experienced a little bit of tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, at some stage in our lives. But for some people this phantom sound in their brain can be loud, and permanent, and completely debilitating. Claire Concannon speaks to a group of scientists at the University of Auckland who've been researching ways to help for years, and have developed a digital therapy with promising trial results.

Aug 30, 2023
Exercise on the brain

Dr Kate Thomas has exercise on the brain. As an exercise physiologist, she researches how exercise and fasting can change the energy sources our brain uses. And as an ultramarathon runner, she chases that runner's high on gruelling mountain races.

Aug 23, 2023
Earthquake engineering meets breast cancer screening

How can swaying buildings help diagnose breast cancer? Katy Gosset meets a team of engineers taking inspiration from earthquake engineering to design a new, cost-effective device to help detect breast cancer. Listen to find out how the device works, and how it could help more women get tested sooner.

Aug 16, 2023
Takahē dreamers

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the rediscovery of the takahē. Claire Concannon sits down with former Our Changing World presenter and takahē superfan Alison Ballance to chat about her new book, Takahē: Bird of Dreams. Plus, we replay Alison's 2018 episode marking the 70th anniversary of the momentous rediscovery, and discuss what's happened in takahē conservation since.

Aug 09, 2023
The petrel patrol

Every year, tens to hundreds of seabirds fall out of the sky across Auckland city. Disoriented by the bright lights, Cook's petrels crash-land and collide with buildings – but a dedicated group of volunteers hit the pavement to rescue them. Join us on 'Petrel Patrol' and go behind the scenes at a bird hospital, where squid smoothies and bath time help the seabirds find their wings again.

Aug 02, 2023