This week, the big problems with tiny homes, how we can do our bit to mitigate climate change (besides recycling), why it’s so difficult to keep our drinking water safe, the limits of mental health ‘awareness’, and the case of an Afghan refugee separated from her family by a ministerial prerogative.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.


Tiny homes, big problems

You’ve probably seen the videos where you’re walked through a picture-perfect tiny home on an idyllic section. 

The incredibly clever storage! Off the grid wonders! People who can live with three shirts and a pair of pants! 

When it works, it really works

But sometimes getting it to work can mean jumping through all sorts of hoops – building rules that vary from council to council, resource consents, rules on off-grid living, financing, finding a section to live on.

And worse: hoping the cash you’ve forked out in advance doesn’t disappear with your builder. 

Tom Kitchin gets his foot in the door with the problems facing this promising counter to our housing crisis.


Recycling the wrong ideas about climate change

Although Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon both said New Zealand was in a climate emergency, their answers to a follow up question: “Personally, what are you doing to change your lifestyle?” were revealing.

The first leaders’ debate left the country’s top climate communicators with their heads in their hands. Photo: TVNZ/Andrew Dalton

“As a family, we embraced recycling some time ago,” Luxon responded.

“I have an EV (electric vehicle), I’m a recycler,” said Hipkins.

RNZ’s climate change correspondent Eloise Gibson said those answers were to her “horror”.

“It turned out that they made a really common mistake – both of them – which is thinking that recycling’s going to make much difference to climate action. You would’ve hoped that our two prospective leaders would be better informed.” 

Tom Kitchin speaks to Gibson and Dr Kevin Trenberth, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, about climate change mitigation at an individual level.


Making our drinking water safe

In the 1950s, supplying drinking water was simple: find your cleanest source of water and add chlorine.

But new discoveries over the past seven decades have made it much more complicated and a lot more costly.

Queenstown could face months of having to boil water until treatment plants are upgraded with barriers against cryptosporidium, the mayor says. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

In Queenstown, the spending needed to fix its drinking water after an outbreak of cryptosporidium is estimated to be $30 million and locals face months of boiling their water before it’s safe.

Sharon Brettkelly speaks to water regulator Taumata Arowai’s principal adviser on drinking water Jim Graham and former journalist Nikki Mandow.


Helping or harming? Our modern mental health conversations

Mental Health Awareness Week is over for another year. 

“We’re all on scales of things, I think,” says psychologist Karen Nimmo. “We don’t want to rush to slam labels on to ourselves when they may not be helpful.” Photo: Getty Images

It’s something we talk about now, more than ever. 

But are we saying too much? Are our conversations around mental illness, and particularly suicide, now doing more harm than good? 

“You’ve got so many people on there making videos, talking about their lived experiences; and while that offers hope to many people, and it can give you tips on how to manage your own struggles, that lived experience doesn’t qualify you to diagnose or treat mental illness,” says psychologist Karen Nimmo.

Alexia Russell speaks to Nimmo and journalist and mental health speaker Jehan Casinader.


Torn apart by war, kept apart by bureaucrats

It’s not difficult to tug on the heartstrings when you tell immigration stories of families split up by the traumas of war, but this story about children living without their parents on the other side of the world is especially agonising.

And we may never have known about the 20 Afghan children who came to New Zealand without their mothers and fathers if it was not uncovered by Corazon Miller on 1News.

Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Taliban in August 2021. Photo: Getty Images

She focuses on teenager Arezo Nazari, who fled her country two years ago along with hundreds of thousands of Afghans escaping the Taliban.

Now 18 and planning to study law at university in New Zealand, Arezo is still trying to persuade authorities to let her parents and brother join her here.

Her lawyer, Claudia Elliott, says it is wrong that Arezo has not been supported by Immigration New Zealand or the associate immigration minister who has discretion to intervene and allow her family into the country.

Sharon Brettkelly finds out more.


Long Read: The food lobby in Aotearoa

This is The Detail‘s Long Read  one in-depth story read by us every weekend.

“They’re fully embedded in the political and economic life in New Zealand … As soon as there’s some policy on the table – that they’re thinking about sugary drinks tax or restrictions on junk food marketing or so on – they will pounce.” Photo: RNZ

This week, it’s a story from RNZ’s In Depth team: ‘Fully embedded’: The food lobby in Aotearoa.

Investigative reporter Guyon Espiner has come out with a new series, Off the Shelf, looking at the quiet struggle to stop New Zealanders eating themselves sick.

He joins Alexia Russell to discuss the series and read his story himself.

How the food industry throws its weight – and its money – around in sport, politics, nutrition, and education.


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