The Spinoff recommends: Tapu Te Ranga, Stonehenge Aotearoa, Hollywood Con Queen and more

Rec Room is a weekly newsletter full of recommendations and all the latest videos and podcasts from The Spinoff. Read this week’s instalment below, and sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox every Wednesday!

On a list of Aotearoa’s coolest looking buildings, Tapu Te Ranga would have to have been near the top, alongside the Hundertwasser toilets and Invercargill’s water tower. Construction on the Island Bay marae started in the 1970s and seemingly never really stopped – new bits kept being added on until it was a sprawling, magical-looking multi-storey structure made mostly of recycled wood and other salvaged materials.

The marae was the vision of Kaumatua Bruce Stewart, who lived there until his death in 2017. Two years later, the main building burned to the ground in the middle of the night. For filmmakers Vanessa Patea and Ruth Korver, who had been filming a documentary about the marae and interviewing Stewart in the year before his death, their footage suddenly held even greater significance.

The finished documentary tells the story of Tapu Te Ranga marae in the words of the man whose vision it was built around. The film debuted at last year’s Doc Edge film festival, and this week we’re privileged to be able to share it on The Spinoff. Have a watch:


Pods pods pods

On When the Facts Change [Apple | Spotify] last Friday Bernard Hickey got stuck into unpacking Labour’s housing package and what it all means – a topic this week’s Gone By Lunchtime [Apple | Spotify] also picked up and ran with. On The Fold [Apple | Spotify], Duncan Greive talked to new MediaWorks CEO Cam Wallace about a hectic first three months on the job, and Business is Boring [Apple | Spotify] caught up with the founder of a New Zealand non-profit teaching prisoners to code. The Real Pod [Apple | Spotify] watched several more hours of highly toxic MAFS AU and the finale of The Bachelor NZ (out tonight!) while Remember When… [Apple | Spotify] remembered Tumblr and the bass-heavy heyday of Wellington dub. Subscribe and listen to them all now!

Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen

Catherine says: “I recommend the podcast Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen. An enthralling true crime tale with not a single gruesome murder, Chameleon investigates a bizarre six year campaign of psychological terror waged against some of the lowest people on the Hollywood food chain. Hosted by journalist Josh Dean, whom true crime fans will recognise from the Netflix series Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, this is the first podcast in a long time that I’ve devoured in a single day – all 10 episodes of it. As always with these kind of stories, the less you already know, the better: this one has some jaw-dropping twists you really don’t want spoiled.”

Garth and Kat

Alex says: “The other day I laughed like a humiliating drain all the way through the idiotic Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, and then found myself on my quarterly Kristen Wiig bender which, inevitably, ends with Saturday Night Live’s Garth and Kat compilations. The premise is simple – Fred Armisen starts making up a song, and Kristen Wiig tries to sing along. Each song is more absurd than the last, but the true scream-laughs come from their complete inability to keep a straight face. Fred Armisen’s forehead vein is set to explode as he sings a Halloween song about surfing Dracula, Kristen Wiig gasps through this Valentine’s ditty about milk chocolate, “I heard a rumour” *clap clap* “I heard a rumour” *clap clap* gets me every time.”

Ātete (To Resist)

Toby says: “Ātete (To Resist) is the Ralph Hotere survey exhibition that opened on Friday at Christchurch Art Gallery. The curators of the show, which appeared previously at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, have assembled a gripping, visceral best-of, beginning with the properly awesome Black Phoenix, which Hotere created out of the charred remains of a local fishing boat that set alight near his home in Port Chalmers. Each turn presents another blast of mystery or fire. I’m biased as I have a family connection, but I swear you won’t regret spending half an hour at Ātete (price: free). It’s magnificent.”

Nailed It!

Sam says: “Nailed It! on Netflix is the best game show on TV. The new season, which features pairs attempting to bake incredibly complex sweet things, is even more chaotic than usual. Everybody bickers, everybody messes up, but they have a great time whether they win or lose. Host Nicole Byer is also just serotonin in human form – when I watch her I feel my pores empty, my hair get thicker and my posture correct itself.”

Stonehenge Aotearoa

Josie says: “Google reviews will tell you Stonehenge Aotearoa is nothing like the “real” Stonehenge. Good, I say! Our henge is fully functional! It’s about a 10-minute drive out of Carterton, and you need to watch a 12-minute informational DVD in a Mars-themed room before getting to the henge. It’s extremely worth it. Don’t forget to check out the gift shop.”

Hannah Tatana

Leonie says: “I was lucky enough to catch Marlon Williams on his latest theatre tour, and was really moved by his inclusion of haka and waiata Māori, including the grieving mother’s lament ‘Rimu rimu’. This is one of my favourite songs of all time, as performed by the incredible mezzo contralto Hannah Tatana. ‘Rimu rimu’ isn’t on it, but her 1965 album Māori is a perfect collection of waiata – the songs where she duets with herself are absolutely transporting (and I curse time itself for not giving Marlon Williams the opportunity to sing with her. When he’s in his upper register the similarities are striking). Pop it on and be washed in beauty as the cooler weather sets in.

This American Life: Boulder vs Hill

Lucy says: “This recent ep of This American Life tells two very different stories of groups of people saving us from something very large to something very small. The first is the teams fighting the California wildfires, which blew my mind, and the second is a group of scientists who had been working for years on what eventually led us to the coronavirus vaccine. Most notably Dr Nianshuang Wang, who spent 10 years of his life researching the structure of the MERS coronavirus and being disheartened by the science community not being interested in his findings – until his team got a call on January 6th 2020.”

Chemist Warehouse

Eli says: “Chemist Warehouse is my Costco, my Kmart, my place to see my money fly out of my wallet for vitamins I probably don’t need, cheap hair dye, and baby snacks you can’t find in any New Zealand supermarket. All whilst listening to some banging tunes with crazy rave cave CW store bumpers in between, complete with DJ airhorn sound effects. I love it so much.”

Alice adds: “I rec Dan Carter in the Chemist Warehouse ads – I think maybe the best sportsperson ad acting? I’ve never seen someone look so comfortable outside their field/arena/stage. Don’t even talk to me about Blair Tuke’s America’s Cup ad where he took two steps forward as though he’s never walked on land in his life.” (For more great DC ad acting, “check out the awesome Vortex Mega Howler”.)

Tony Singing

Jane says: “This is one of the first user generated videos I ever had the pleasure of encountering. Before YouTube there was Google Video, and it was on that short-lived platform I found this delightful performance by Tony in 2005. The original title of the video was ‘Tony Songing’, and Tony can truly song like no other. The original title of the song is ‘Always Something There to Remind Me’, and as you listen you’ll discover Tony cares not for such details. Presumably recorded to send to a love interest, Tony coyly eyeballs the webcam as he sings what few words of the song he knows. A return to the verse when he was expecting the bridge doesn’t deter this lovestruck crooner. He soldiers on as if broadcasting live and wraps it all up with a delightful fade out. I revisit this clip regularly, and may be solely responsible for all 10,345 views it had racked up at time of writing. Now, I give it to you.”

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