Every weekday, The Detail makes sense of the big news stories.

All up, that’s almost 250 episodes in 2022 alone.

And we’ve covered just about everything – from co-governance to the price of coffee and the war in Ukraine.

As a special end-of-year treat, we asked Emile Donovan and Sharon Brettkelly to pick their top three podcasts of the year… but there was a catch: Sharon had to pick her favourite episodes made by Emile, and vice versa.

And as we head off on our summer break, we’ve put together an official listening guide for you to catch up on or listen back to some of our best episodes.

From us at The Detail, thanks for listening – and we’ll see you again soon.

Got feedback for The Detail? Drop us a line at thedetail@rnz.co.nz and let us know what you want to see in 2023.

Emile’s Donovan’s favourite episodes

On the ground at the Parliament protest

Sharon Brettkelly went to Wellington to cover the protest at Parliament. She writes about what she saw and the people she met as she was making today’s episode of The Detail.

“I think the pod that you did when you went down to Wellington is probably my favourite pod that you’ve ever done of The Detail,” says Donovan.

“The background to this podcast … we weren’t really sure what was happening with this protest. We sort of ummed and ahhed about whether we’d even go down and cover it. And it was sort of a spur of the moment decision.

“There’s one moment where you’re talking to this guy, and another bloke comes in about halfway through, and the guy you’re talking to says ‘no, no, bugger off, she’s interviewing us – she’s just from a podcast’, he said!” laughs Donovan.

“And then he continued to talk really openly, and really freely.”

Peter Ellis’ faith finally repaid

The quashing of Peter Ellis’ convictions for child sex abuse by the Supreme Court is a vindication for his supporters and, even though it took 30 years, for Ellis himself. The childcare worker died in 2019 still hopeful the justice system would eventually clear his name.

“It was fascinating to hear from Melanie Reid who formed a real relationship with Peter Ellis,” says Donovan.

Melanie Reid interviewing Peter Ellis in the early 1990s. Photo: Newshub

“In a sense it was a really interesting interview for a journalism student to listen to – to hear Mel talking about how she had her own feelings and thoughts and learned about him and got to know him while still reporting on the story.

“I spoke to her only a few minutes after that announcement was made that his convictions had been quashed,” says Brettkelly. “And it helped me understand how much this was a part of Mel’s life.”

Matatā: The town that had to retreat

The Detail heads to Matatā to find out how New Zealand’s first managed retreat was handled – and what lessons can be learned as communities around the country grapple with the impacts of climate change.  

“The bones of this story, and one of the most impressive things you did in this podcast, is actually outlined what had happened in this story, which is 17 years old,” says Donovan.

“It’s still the only time there’s been a managed retreat in New Zealand…Here you saw so many of the wider issues that we’re going to have to grapple with.

“I’m very familiar with Matatā,” says Brettkelly. “Because it’s in the place that I grew up, the Bay of Plenty.

“When I went there to do the interviews, there was one house left, and it was all surrounded by this high wire fencing, and with danger signs everywhere. And there’s still a sign at the side of the road that says something like, ‘Beware! Your land could be taken at any moment’…it helps you understand this has been such a fraught issue for years and years.”

Sharon Brettkelly’s favourite episodes

The money or the morals – sport’s sponsorship dilemma

Should athletes – especially those in financially struggling sports – have a say on which companies are splashed over the uniforms they wear? 

“I find it fascinating this area where sport really intersects with wider social issues, and the commercial realities of sport are placed front and centre,” says Donovan.

The Australian Diamonds were embroiled in a row over sponsorship. Photo: Getty Images

“What I really admired about how Jenny [Woods] approached this podcast is she said what she felt. And that’s actually really rare, particularly in that area of sport, there’s a lot of duelling tensions, you don’t want to piss anybody off.”

The anatomy of a pepeha

A pepeha is often thought of as an introduction, but as te reo Māori expert and teacher Stacey Morrison explains to The Detail, it’s much more than that.

“That was pretty special, I thought, because as you pointed out, as a Pākehā man who hasn’t really engaged much in te ao Māori, working on your own pepeha is quite a nerve-wracking thing. You don’t want to say the wrong thing, you don’t want to be disrespectful, you don’t want to make a fool of yourself, but also you’re putting yourself out there really – in a podcast,” says Brettkelly.

“I don’t know a lot about my ancestors, and this might sound brutal, but I don’t really care that much,” says Donovan.

“So when the history of your lineage and the people who came before you is such a rich part of te ao Māori, how do you approach that? … Should a Pākehā even do a pepeha?

“[Stacey Morrison] really understood. She was very open-hearted about it. She was a really good and generous interviewee,” says Donovan.

Why are we still using the BMI?

The body mass index has been used by clinicians for centuries – but does it provide an accurate snapshot of a person’s health?

“It was such a great history lesson about something that is really important to us, and how it’s full of faults … but at the same time, we’re hearing from a nutrition guru who defends it,” says Brettkelly.

“One of the special bits of it was when you talk about what happens when you put in Richie McCaw’s statistics into the Ministry of Health’s own BMI calculator, and it flashed up: you are a very unhealthy weight.

“As a wider healthcare tool, it is and remains useful – even if it was conceived 200 years ago by some French mathematician,” Donovan laughs. “He wasn’t even a doctor! He was an astronomer!”

The Detail 2022 Listening Guide

Natural disasters





Stories from the community

Something a bit different

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Sharon Brettkelly is co-host of The Detail podcast.

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