Some of Aotearoa’s most innovative content today is coming via this medium, and I’m here to help you find one that’s right for you. They say there’s a podcast for every occasion so let’s sort through the noise and find that’s just right for you right now.
A podcast for when you feel like being an amateur detective - Black Hands
New Zealand’s very own Serial. As I’m sure you’re aware, true crime podcasts are sooo hot right now. Turns out the public loves the chance to get out the magnifying glass and have a go at amateur sleuthing in an attempt to solve some of history’s most complex criminal cases. Last year Black Hands became in an instant success, covering the 1994 Bain family slayings, possibly NZ’s most famous (and still unsolved) case.
Black Hands is hosted and produced by journalist and long-time Bainophile, Martin Van Beynan. Despite publicly stating many times that he believes David Bain is guilty of the slayings, Van Beynan does an excellent job of examining all aspects of the case, the court records, and interspersing it with his own observations to create a comprehensive yet digestible five hour tale that grips you in ways many true crime podcasts fail to. Regardless of your opinions on David Bain or the killings, this podcast is for you, the truth is out there, you just have to find it.
A podcast to prime yourself for political banter - Gone by Lunchtime
Maybe some drunken old guy at the bar is rambling on about how Jacinda Ardern can’t be a mother and lead our country. Maybe your racist uncle tells everyone else at dinner that Simon Bridge’s is only ‘3/16ths Maori’ (Blood Quantum is so 1957), either way you want to be backed up by some sound political analysis before launching into a shouting match. Let me introduce you to The Spinoff’s politics podcast, Gone by Lunchtime. Hosted by the velvet-voiced new head honcho over at the Spinoff Toby Manhire, and featuring The Hui’s Annabel Lee and former government press secretary Ben Thomas, GBL rose out of the need for quality political content during the 2017 election.
The podcast takes on the comings of goings of the NZ political scene and manages to keep you engaged with a certain levity and humour that you wouldn’t normally associate with a political discussion. If learning about politics is the eating your vegetables of intellectual and personal development, this is a sassy, delicious Caesar salad.
A podcast for when you feel like slipping into a rabbit-hole of insanity - The Worst Idea of All Time
Just like Boners of the Heart, which I’ve previously fawned over, The Worst Idea of all Time is another gem and possibly the flagship pod of NZ comedy podcast stable ‘Little Empire Podcasts’. Several years ago, two of New Zealand’s best comedians Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery set out on a mission to watch comedy afterthought Grown Ups 2 once a week, every week for a year and document the ensuing madness.
As you can imagine, Montgomery and Batt gradually descended into a spiral of existential masochistic chaos and despair being confronted with this task on a weekly basis, and it makes for compelling listening. The podcast quickly became a hit internationally gaining cult status in America. Batt and Montgomery’s chemistry and ability to build their own ridiculous world around this garbage film shine through and make you feel like a participant in this cruel joke as well as a spectator.
The podcast was so successful that the boys did two more seasons with the films Sex and the City 2 (a grueling two and a half hours long) and We Are Your Friends (Troy from High School Musical but he’s a DJ and he fucks). While the podcast has ended now (although there are thousands of fans pushing for its return), the three seasons make up New Zealand’s most successful comedy podcast and a nice reminder that there’s always someone out there having a worse time than you.
A podcast for exploring the side of Aotearoa’s history your teachers never taught you - Black Sheep
Radio New Zealand has upped their digital presence immensely over the past couple of years, and this has resulted in the production of some of New Zealand’s highest quality pods. The Lost, is another for True Crime fiends in which Paloma Migone digs into the cold cases of Kiwis who never came home. There’s The 9th Floor, featuring one of NZ’s most talented interviewers, Guyon Espiner, interviewing Aotearoa’s former Prime Ministers in amazing and revealing long form pieces. Then there’s Black Sheep, my personal favourite of the flock. Black Sheep explores the ‘shady, controversial and sometimes downright villainous characters of New Zealand history’.
The bad boys and girls of our collective past that Ms Jenkins used to hide from you during social studies in case you got any bad ideas. Want to learn about some our notorious outlaws, grave robbers and war profiteers? What about Justice Prendergast? NZ’s most racist Judge who became a symbol for the way colonials treated the Treaty and Māori? There really is a scoundrel for everyone on this podcast no matter what you’re into. If you ever fart in an elevator or accidentally push an old lady down some stairs, just put on this podcast and be prepared to instantly feel like a good person again.