NEW ZEALAND: Kiwi radio

Napier’s 1930s Art Deco city centre – Source

I’ve been trolling through Radio Garden for live radio from New Zealand, especially to listen to as I work. There’s a fair bit of commercial radio, but it’s really similar to the music played on commercial radio here – some even geo-locate their ads online, so I get Canadian ads in the breaks! However, there’s also a lot of really interesting independent, public, community, and online stations in Aotearoa. The time difference means I’m mainly listening to overnight programming, but that’s often when they play the really cool stuff.

Base FM – An Auckland-based station that prides itself on its independence – “100% DJ’s choice”. They rotate DJs, and each gets to play whatever tickles their fancy. They also have shows dedicated to only NZ and Indigenous artists, interviews, new artist showcases, and more. Big mix of hip hop, jazz, electronic, reggae, and more. Listen live here.

KiwiFolk Radio – On the opposite end of the country, in Dunedin on the south end of the South Island, another independent radio station – this one all folk, Celtic, bluegrass, and jazz. I think they play either exclusively or mainly Kiwi artists – I was listening to a lovely late-night set that interspersed music with some soothing local birdcalls. Listen live here.

Radio Los Galanes – A really interesting little radio station on the South Island – mainly Latin music. I tuned in to some absolutely fire Spanish guitar, interspersed with clips from Spanish language. I’ve also caught jazz, big band, and calypso. Listen live here.

Mouthfull Radio – Fun experimental radio, with soundscapes, house, hip-hop, and dance mixes, and DJ sets. Less esoteric and more upbeat than some of the experimental radio in San Marino last month, but similarly interesting. Listen live here.

RNZ Radio – Now the big one! There’s several different stations from RNZ, New Zealand’s public broadcaster:

  • RNZ National: The main RNZ radio station – a mix of news, talk, and music. The late night radio usually has radio documentaries – I listened to one on farmers growing ultra-high quality fruit for export to Japan, where they’re sold for immense prices. Listen live here.
  • RNZ Concert: An all-music channel, mainly classical, opera, jazz, and choral music. Very little interruptions – sometimes there’s a presenter sharing some details, sometimes it’s a concert played straight through. Listen live here.
  • RNZ Pacific: A similar mix as RNZ National, but with a focus on Pacific Islands – sometimes the program is the same, and sometimes it’s either Pacific-focused or Pacific-language programming. There’s news and shows in Tongan, Samoan, French, Cook Islands Maori, Niuean, and Pidgin languages from PNG, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. Listen live here.

NEW ZEALAND: Even more snacks

The third and final installation of snacks from New Zealand from Kiwi Grub Box! (Parts 1 and 2 are here.)

Bluebird Poppa Jacks – What are Poppa Jacks? The packaging is inconclusive, just “flavoured wheat snacks” with a clown on them. They’re somewhere between a rice cracker and Bissli – crunchy fried puffs with a savoury flavour, almost like … broth? Something quite umami. They’re very different, but quite good.

Fabulicious Green Apple Sherbert Fizz – Two long green tubes, with green apple gummy on the outside, and slightly fizzy tart sherbert on the inside. Sherbert is really uncommon in Canada, which is a shame because I would have been all over these as a kid.

Space Man Fruit Sticks – These ones come in two flavours, banana and raspberry. They’re hard sugar sticks, though a bit less chalky and slightly softer than the Popeye candy sticks we have in Canada. Both are some of the few remaining candy cigarette brands still on the market – with red tips and cigarette labelling long gone.

Minties – Basic soft mint chews. What’s notable is they’ve historically been so chewy that they pull out fillings, but the ones made for the New Zealand market are now made in Thailand with a recipe that’s less likely to rip out a crown. However, the ones for the Australian market are harder and made …in New Zealand? (They’re also sold under different brands – Pascall vs. Allen’s.) A friend in Australia recently sent me a pack of Minties as well, and they taste different – the Aussie ones are chewier and with a sharper mint flavour.

Kiwi vs Aussie Minties

Tangy Grape / Apple chews – I swear, New Zealand’s dentists must be in cahoots with candy makers to keep people ripping out fillings. Minties, K Bars, Fruit Bursts and these chews – all quite the jaw workout. Otherwise, nothing too special, though the grape one had a pleasingly old-school artificial grape flavour.

Bluebird Delisio Greek Tzatziki chips – These were one of the options for my order, and I didn’t pick them because they were particularly singular or representative of Aotearoa – I just love taztziki. I’ve never seen chips flavoured like it before! They taste like lemon and mint, with realistic cucumber and yogurt in the aftertaste. Tangy and really good.


Aoraki / Mt Cook – Source

There’s a huge number of New Zealand podcasts to choose from – I’m overwhelmed just by the offerings from RNZ, Aotearoa’s public broadcaster. Much like the CBC here in Canada, they’ve really dedicated themselves to supporting podcasts, and there’s everything from standard radio shows and news to mini-series to really experimental stuff. The following are all RNZ podcasts, I’ll see if I can get to other podcasts as well this month!

The Aotearoa History Show – A 14-part podcast (with a video version on Youtube) covering the entire history of New Zealand – Maori settlement of the islands, the arrival of Europeans, the Musket Wars, the Treaty of Waitangi (and how it was subsequently ignored), the New Zealand Wars, the arrival of refrigeration and how it saved the New Zealand economy, how land and sovereignty was taken from the Maori, the World Wars, the post-war period, and a drunken Prime Minister calling a snap election. Just a generally excellent overview of the whole sweep in 20 minute bites; I really recommend listening to the whole thing.

Great Ideas – A series of podcasts that brings in experts from universities across New Zealand to talk about “big ideas”. I listened to “Every Language is a World” about linguistics, translation, and linguistic determinism – what does it mean when you have a specific word in your language for a concept?

This Way Up: seismic stories – The final episode of a long-running RNZ show, this podcast stitches together archival audio from three different post-earthquake bike trips by the presenter. The first was through Christchurch shortly after the 2011 earthquake, the second from a year later, and the third through a town called Kaikoura after a 2016 earthquake. The presenter also lives in the region and has been affected by the quakes, and gives the people he meets a chance to speak as they try to put their lives and livelihoods back together.

Fight for the Wild – A four-part series looking at the Predator Free 2050 plan and the losses to biodiversity New Zealand has faced since the introduction of rats, possums, and stoats to the islands. The first episode looks at the unique biology of New Zealand wildlife, which evolved without land predators or mammals (apart from some bats), and how it was devastated by the arrival of humans and their animals. The following episodes look at attempts at pest control, Maori perspectives, and the economic effects of the plan. It would be interesting to compare with my home province of Alberta: the only place in the world to successfully eradicate rats completely.

Widows of Shuhada – A short series following four women, all of whom were widowed in the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings. They talk about the grieving process, their lives before and after, how the Muslim community in Christchurch responded to the murders, and how they continue with their lives and their faith. The host of the podcast is also a Muslim woman from Christchurch – she herself had grown up attending the mosque, and knew many of the victims. It’s a deeply personal and sensitive series.

NEW ZEALAND: The Piano (1993)

The Piano is a 1993 film that was a huge critical and commercial success – directed and written by Jane Campion, it follows Ada, a young Victorian widow as she sails to New Zealand to remarry a settler. Ada is mute from trauma, never fully explained but related to the death of her first husband, and brings along her daughter and her beloved piano. It’s the piano even more than the daughter that brings her solace, and she ends up caught in romantic machinations and jealousy. She tries to make the best choices for her survival and for her sanity, especially as someone who is largely isolated, both deep in the woods and with her muteness, and prey to the whims of the men around her, but she also has to navigate her own complex emotions. I won’t spoil it, but the haunting final “what if” ending of her joining her piano’s fate sticks with you.

NEW ZEALAND: Non-sauv blanc wine

I love New Zealand sauvignon blanc – it’s my favourite wine. New Zealand is justifiably famous for it – you can get dozens of different brands here in Canada. I recently tried Main Divide (it’s my new fav), Kim Crawford and Oyster Bay are always good standbys, and Cloudy Bay is a special treat. It’s such a treat that my dad would bring back a case of Cloudy Bay when he went on business trips to New Zealand in the 90s, since it wasn’t available in Canada then.

NZ sauv blanc has a really distinctive taste, mineraly, dry and tart like gooseberries. Sometimes you hear it described as “cat’s pee” – which actually has been used in branding. I remember bottles of Cat’s Pee On A Gooseberry Bush being popular several years back.

But as much as I love their sauvignon blanc, the point of Locally Foreign is to try new things! I’ve gone out and picked up three bottles of New Zealand wine, none of them are sauvignon blanc. I looked for a red, a rosé, and a white. I was warned that NZ chardonnays are can be pretty oaked, which I personally dislike, so I went for something completely different!

Loveblock Gewürztraminer – A vegan wine (yeast doesn’t count?) from Marlborough – it’s dryer than other Gewurtzes, with a distinctly lychee flavour and some nice floral and orange water hints. I really like this – it’s less sweet while still being fruity.

Hãhã Rosé – From Hawke’s Bay around Napier on the North Island. A Merlot and Malbec blend, aroma reminds me of cranberry juice. Nice and dry, with some raspberry notes. It’s pretty light in flavour, but I appreciate how it’s a bit tart. Would be a decent summer picnic rosé. Hāhā translates from te reo to “delicious” (though when used as a verb, it could mean to be out of breath).

Kono Pinot Noir – Kono is a Maori-owned winery from Marlborough, named after a style of welcome basket. They produce a pretty wide range of wines – sauvignon blanc, chard, rosé, several pinots – as well as grow fruit, make cider, and farm oysters (sounds like you could have a pretty good winery tour there). Their pinot noir has an earthy old wood scent, while the flavour makes me think of black cherries – it’s nicely tart and acidic, without too many tannins. There’s a little edge of oak, which I don’t personally love, but it doesn’t dominate.

NEW ZEALAND: A History of Silence by Lloyd Jones

A History of Silence feels like a novel – Lloyd Jones is a famous NZ novelist after all – but it’s not fiction. This memoir was written after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, as the shock and trauma of it prompted him to dig into his family’s history. He pieces together what little he knows from family lore, a challenge as his family was prone to the classic bottling up of feelings and concerns, and ends up learning possibly more than he wants about his parents’ and grandparents’ lives.

We writes with the flow of a novel, and while there’s some very funny and odd bits, it’s generally a quietly sad memoir – the discomfort of unearthing real pain and rootlessness, and dealing with death and aging. His deliberations with the undertaker, while befuddled with grief, over his recently-passed mother’s body hit me the hardest and genuinely brought me to tears.

NEW ZEALAND: The Murder of Commissioner Larsen, The Mau, and New Zealand’s colonies

When we talk about New Zealand’s colonial history, it’s easy to look at New Zealand as a colony itself, of settlers vs. Maori, and how it gradually became an independent nation. However, New Zealand had its own colonies, most them it still has a level of control over. This “Realm of New Zealand” includes the Pacific islands of Niue, the Cook Islands, and Tokelau (as well as New Zealand’s Antarctic claims).

Niue and the Cook Islands are self-governing but in “free association” with New Zealand. Essentially, they are independent countries, with their own governments and laws, but residents have New Zealand citizenship, and rely on New Zealand for defence and representation at the UN. Some countries do have diplomatic relations with Niue or the Cook Islands, but they’re not recognized as sovereign. However, the two nations seem to be drifting further towards independence, and some day may decide to fully cut the cord with New Zealand. It’s not impossible, especially for the Cook Islands with 17,000 people – bigger population-wise than Nauru, which is a fully sovereign country.

Tokelau has less independence, and is classified as a “non-self governing territory” by the UN (and so considered a colony) – there have been two unsuccessful referendums for Tokelau to enter into the same kind of free association as Niue and the Cook Islands. Recently suggestions have been floated about another vote, perhaps with additional options – possibly fully merging into New Zealand, or even becoming wholly independent. Here’s an interesting look by Professor James Ker-Lindsay at Tokelau’s statehood:

However, things have not always been so relaxed between New Zealand and the Realm – these nations used to be genuine colonies of New Zealand, governed directly by commissioners. In 1953, a particularly abusive and dictatorial commissioner, Cecil Larsen, was murdered by Niuean locals – leading to a huge criminal trial that divided New Zealanders and pushed for increased independence for Niue:

From 1914 to 1962, Samoa was also a colony of New Zealand, and during that time, New Zealand was responsible for poor handling of the Spanish Flu, which killed about 20% of the Samoan population, and of heavy handed governance, including shooting unarmed protesters. Samoa’s non-violent Mau movement did eventually achieve independence from New Zealand, but the scars still run deep in people’s memories:

NEW ZEALAND: More snacks

Here’s Part 2 of my big New Zealand snack order from Kiwi Grub Box – Part 1 is here.

Pascall Party Pack – Pascall is a joint New Zealand and Australia candy company. They make some NZ-specific treats, like Pineapple Lumps (I’ve ordered some, hopefully they arrive in time!), but this is a mixed bag of a few different gummies – gummy worms, jets, and leaves, wine gums, foam bananas, and foam “Explorers”. Up until early extremely recently, Explorers were marketed in New Zealand as the old racial slur for Inuit. An Inuk tourist from Canada had complained back in 2009, but the company had used the “most people aren’t offended” excuse then to keep the name then. Pascall did eventually change the name, but not until 2021. And for the gummies themselves? They’re pretty good, I like the foam bananas the best.

Bluebird Rashuns – Bacon cheesies! Smells like actual bacon, and the flavour is distinctly sharp aged cheddar – it’s so realistic that it’s almost weird. The taste doesn’t last long, but they’re pretty satisfying.

Whittaker’s K Bars – Seriously chewy toffee (it’s a marketing point) – hang onto your filling! Two flavours, blackberry and raspberry. I liked the raspberry better, the blackberry flavour was a bit underwhelming. Serious jaw workout on both!

Raro Sweet Navel Orange – Raro drink mixes come in multi-packs of three, but the snack box I ordered only lets you pick one. There’s a tonne of different flavours, including a pack of three different types of orange. Makes a litre of orange drink – it’s sweet like Koolaid but with a more realistic orange flavour, I could tell they were going for actual navel oranges. Real sugar, too.

NEW ZEALAND: Anzac biscuits

I tried to follow authentic recipes as often as possible, but this is the first one where following the recipe is required by law! Anzac biscuits are shared by Australia and New Zealand (who are in friendly competition over having the oldest recipe), and were sold in fundraisers for troops fighting in the First World War. They’re often still sold to fundraise for veterans’ associations around Anzac Day.

That military connection is where the law comes in. Both New Zealand and Australia regulate the use of “ANZAC” – government permission is specifically needed to sell anything commercially with the name. There’s an exemption for needing to file for permission to sell Anzac biscuits, but they must be made with the traditional recipe, with no modifications like chocolate chips or nuts. (Gluten- or dairy-free modifications are allowed.) They must also be marketed exactly as “Anzac biscuits” – not as cookies or other names.

The two countries take it quite seriously and enforce these rules with the threat of fines. An ice cream company using the cookies had to change their marketing from “Anzac bikkies” to “biscuits”, and Subway was forced to stop selling the biscuits in Australia in 2008 when it was found they were using their regular cookie dough (which was American-made to boot, which seemed to be a further bone of contention).

So, how to make Anzac biscuits the right way? The recipe is actually pretty straightforward – sugar, flour, rolled oats, and coconut, with butter, golden syrup, and some baking soda dissolved in boiling water. I used this recipe from the Edmonds Cookbook, a New Zealand cooking staple in its own right.

I found real golden syrup in the international aisle at the grocery (no substitutions!) The recipe was really easy and baked up quickly – the biscuits were soft and chewy, sweet but not excessively so, and nice and toothsome with the coconut and oats.