Sunday News

What’s new to listen to

Ximena Smith rounds up the best of recent podcasts.


NZ Wars: Stories of Wairau

This new podcast accompanie­s the latest chapter of RNZ’s NZ Wars documentar­y series released this weekend, which focuses on a 1843 conflict known as ‘‘the Wairau Incident’’.

The battle was the first major armed clash between Mā ori and Pā kehā settlers since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and was the result of a land dispute between two Ngā ti Toa chiefs and the New Zealand Company in the Wairau Valley.

Hosted by Justine Murray and William

Ray and featuring the voices of iwi historians and descendant­s, Stories of Wairau takes listeners through the key players and the events that took place in the lead-up to the conflict, as well as its devastatin­g impacts, which can still be felt to this day.

The detailed storytelli­ng of the two-part series is one of its strengths, and both hosts take care to add layers of relevant context throughout each episode. They also note differing versions of events a few times in the story, a feature that I’m sure will be appreciate­d by history enthusiast­s.

Unfortunat­ely, the series’ high level of detail is sometimes its biggest weakness, too – I found myself having to rewind a few times, as a brief lapse in concentrat­ion would leave me a bit lost.

Overall though, there is no doubt in my mind that this latest instalment of the NZ Wars series will be a valuable resource for students, history buffs and interested members of the public alike for many years to come.

Harley Quinn and The Joker: Sound Mind

Spotify, DC and Warner Bros. have joined forces for this new blockbuste­r podcast, which tells the origin story of Gotham City villain Harley Quinn.

Starring Christina Ricci (Yellowjack­ets, Wednesday), the seven-part series takes a deep dive into the life of a young Harley Quinn, then known as Dr Harleen Quinzel. She has a junior-level job at Arkham Asylum, and it is there where she encounters The Joker – known as ‘‘Patient J’’ – for the first time.

I was a bit apprehensi­ve about this one at first, following my disappoint­ment with Spotify’s Batman Unburied last year – it felt a bit overcooked, and unfortunat­ely I didn’t feel particular­ly inspired to listen all the way through to the end.

But Sound Mind has no such problems: the writing is sharp, the sound design is wellcrafte­d and Ricci’s voice-acting is absolutely flawless. I happily binged through this one in a day, and, lucky for you, you can too, as all episodes are out now.

Deep Cover: Never Seen Again

Pushkin’s investigat­ive series about fraudsters with fake identities is back for a third season, this time telling the story of a woman called Esther Reed, who stole numerous identities to get into prestigiou­s US colleges.

Hosted by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jake Halpern, the series details Reed’s deceptions that took place over a 10-year span, including assuming the identity of a missing woman to go to Columbia University.

On its own, the story is an unusual tale of trickery, but this podcast takes it even further by featuring extensive interviews with Reed herself, which is an uncommon feature in other podcasts of a similar nature.

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