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Real Life With John Cowan

Newstalk ZB

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John Cowan hosts ‘Real Life’, a weekly nationwide chat show on Newstalk ZB featuring a different high-profile guest every week. John talks with them about their life, their upbringing, their passions and their view of the world.
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Wayne Brown is a seasoned leader with experience in business and public service, from steering large New Zealand businesses to serving as Mayor of New Zealand’s largest city. But beyond the boardroom and council chambers, Wayne is a keen surfer. He spends his spare time riding the swells and advocating for the protection of our marine environment, …
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Sunday the 9th of June marked a big milestone for John Cowan as he reached 20 years of hosting Real Life on Newstalk ZB! Over 963 shows, John has spoken to 835 different guests in an effort to find out what makes each one of them tick. Listen back to the celebration of John's 20 years on Real Life. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy informatio…
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Ben grew up in Otaki and went to Paraparaumu College. He is a self-taught computer coder and at the age of 12 those skills saw him inventing a GPS wristband that allowed hospitals and visitors to trace patients. This invention won him the youth category of Wellingtonian of the Year in 2016. After a gap year in Canada he launched his own company "Ra…
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A popular contestant on Have You Been Paying Attention, comedian Melanie Bracewell has also appeared on The Project, Triple J, and Thank God You're Here. She was a contestant on the fourth series of Taskmaster NZ. Melanie has contributed as a writer to 7 Days, Have You Been Paying Attention, Wellington Paranormal, and Mean Mums. She is also an expe…
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This week John's guest will be Peter Beck. Peter is a Kiwi entrepreneur who founded the aerospace manufacturer and launch service provider Rocket Lab. Peter grew up in Invercargill, born into a family who loved machines. A toolmaking apprenticeship at Fisher & Paykel gave him hands-on engineering skills and access to top-of-the-line machinery and m…
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Marty Donoghue, based in Wellington, has been Chief Executive of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA) since October 2020. Marty has a 35-year track record of transformational leadership, successfully building and managing teams and mobilising volunteers in New Zealand and internationally across defence, sport, science, a…
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Judy joined the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation in 1971, working as a reporter on news and current affairs programmes. She presented the regional news with John Hawkesby for Auckland from 1980 to 1987 in the programme Top Half. Judy went on to front ONE News, the highest-rated evening television news programme in New Zealand, for twenty-six ye…
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Graeme has recently retired as the New Zealand director of Mercy Ships, an international faith-based organisation that operates hospital ships that sail worldwide and deliver free healthcare to countries with little or no access to safe surgical care. Graeme began at Mercy Ships in 1983 initially taught the crew's children on board the ships, worki…
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Archdeacon of Tamaki Makaurau Until 2010, Dr Lyndon Drake was a Vice President at Barclays Capital, trading government bonds and interest-rate derivatives. Since then, he has served as pastor of Auckland Baptist Tabernacle, taught theology of work at seminaries, served in regional and international church leadership, and has served on a number of b…
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Nelson MP Rachel Boyack says she “nearly ended up in a cult” as a teenager, but escaped after just a few weeks after growing suspicious with the group’s “dodgy” behaviour. The Labour politician was briefly a member of the International Church of Christ, a religious sect known for its aggressive proselytising, while attending Auckland University in …
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Comedian Guy Montgomery was born and raised in Christchurch and went on to study at Victoria University of Wellington. He moved to Canada in 2010 to start his comedy career. He then returned home (partly to co-host Late U) before moving to New York City. Together with Tim Blatt, Guy is co-host of the podcasts Worst Idea of All Time, Friendzone, and…
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Italian-Kiwi Vince worked as a civil engineer from 1990 to 2000 before developing his IT company, Cocurullo’s Ltd, which still operates today. In 2005 Vince became very ill with what turned out to be mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings in his teeth. As a result of this, he experienced a very personal reality check that became the catalyst for h…
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Tommy was born in New South Wales, Australia. He received his first guitar in 1959 (at age four) and was taught by his mother to accompany her, playing lap steel guitar. By age six, he was a working professional musician after his father created a family band, sold their home, and took his family on the road. Tommy would go on tour with country mus…
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Gary Chapman, born in a small town in North Carolina, USA, has become widely known for his work in the realm of relationships, particularly in marriage and family counselling. He has written more than forty books with The 5 Love Languages, one of his most popular titles, topping various bestseller charts for years. He also hosts radio programmes A …
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As a child, acclaimed illusionist and mentalist Scott revelled in mystery. Born and raised in Glasgow, he found a mentor in the owner of a magic shop in Glasgow. As a teenager, he took a hypnosis course in Milan and went on to study drama and performance at the University of Edinburgh. Scott is making his New Zealand debut in March 2024 at the Auck…
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After working as an English teacher and then as an Anglican clergyman near Liverpool, UK, Peter and his wife Miranda moved to Portugal in 1983 to establish and run A Rocha, a global family of conservation organisations working together to live out God’s calling to care for creation ​and equip others to do likewise, and the first field study centre …
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Dave Brebner grew up with undiagnosed and debilitating Tourette Syndrome. Despite the hardships of his teenage years, as a person who was not going to fit the mould of a standard high school education without difficulty, he has gone on to complete an electrical trade qualification, a Bachelor's Degree of Education in Adult Vocational and Workplace …
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Ella Harris is a 25-year-old New Zealand professional cyclist, currently riding for UCI Women's Continental Team Lifeplus Wahoo. She won the Zwift global stationary trainer competition in 2018, which earned her a contract with Women's World Tour's Canyon SRAM team. At home, she won the national under-23 time trial in 2020 and has earned a number of…
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Educated in Sri Lanka, Selina Kumar went on to study in the Philippines and the United States. She then returned to Sri Lanka to work with underprivileged children. After a 26-year civil war in Sri Lanka left thousands widowed, homeless and without livelihoods, Selina wanted to help smallholder dairy farmers out of poverty. She created something su…
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Mikey Havoc first became a DJ on the University of Auckland's 95bFM radio station in the early 1990s. He was on the breakfast show from 1996 to 2002, winning Best New Broadcaster at the 1997 New Zealand Radio Awards and later moved to the afternoon-evening "Drive" show. He once again took over as the breakfast show host in 2006. In 2010 Havoc retur…
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Dr Claire Achmad is an advocate for children, having worked in various areas relating to children's rights. She was appointed as the Deputy Chair of the Children and Young People's Commission in July 2023 and, from November 1st, took up the role of Chief Children's Commissioner and Chair of the Commission for a five-year term. From 2021 to 2023, Cl…
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Shane Hales, known by the stage name Shane, grew up in Surrey, England, before moving to Australia and then New Zealand. He started his career in 1966 as a member of the Australian band The Pleazers before forming his own band, Shane. He became a regular singer on the television pop programme C'mon and was part of the C'mon 1968 national tour. His …
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Dr Phil Bagshaw was an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Otago Christchurch until he retired in 2010. He practised as a specialist General Surgeon, did research and taught surgery. In 2007, he opened the Canterbury Charity Hospital for patients who can’t access public hospital care and can’t afford private care. He is chairman of …
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Benedict is a political journalist working for 1News in the Wellington press gallery. He has a strong interest in covering anything to do with illicit drugs and enforcement. He's covered punitive drug-testing sanctions applied to beneficiaries, attempts to legalise pill-testing at festivals, the 2020 cannabis referendum, and, in 2018 helped expose …
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Craig is a former banker from Dunedin who started his music career in the late 1960s. After involvement with the bands Klap and Fantasy, Scott joined the band Revival who won a Battle of the Bands contest in May 1969. Their song Viva Bobby Joe which peaked at #14 on the related singles chart. After leaving Revival, Craig released a series of commer…
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Chris was born and raised in Lower Hutt and studied film and English literature at Victoria University of Wellington, where he also completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. Chris’ first full-length poetry collection, How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, was published in 2014. In 2016, Snakes was a finalis…
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Together with her husband Andy, who passed away suddenly in 2018, Nikki has been a Co-Founding Director of FamilyLife NZ, a Christian charitable trust. For 25 years, she has taught healthy relationship skills to couples across New Zealand. Nikki is also an accredited certified life coach, a neuro linguistic programming trainer and a lightning proce…
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Robert Vennell is an ecologist and best-selling natural history author. His first book, The Meaning of Trees, was listed as one of the best non-fiction books of 2019 and was longlisted for an Ockham New Zealand Book Award. His second book, Secrets of the Sea, was selected as a finalist in the illustrated non-fiction category of the Ockham New Zeala…
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Born in Rotorua, Clint is co-host of ZM's drive show, Bree & Clint, with Bree Tomasel. Clint started working at The Edge in 2006. After filling in on the breakfast show at the end of 2013, he started co-hosting The Edge Afternoons with Guy, Sharyn & Clint and The Edge Fat 40 with Guy, Sharyn & Clint from 2014. In 2015, he hosted Hot Right Now on Th…
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Zennon walked out of school at 16 years old and talked himself into a job in a restaurant kitchen at Titirangi’s Barossa. After six months, he moved to Auckland's Euro restaurant, then helmed by Simon Gault. Three years later Zennon moved to Australia, where he honed his skills in some of Australia’s most esteemed kitchens. Zennon returned to Cibo …
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Michèle trained in journalism and has a degree in English literature and drama from Victoria University of Wellington. She started doing stand-up comedy in the 1990s and has toured New Zealand and international venues with her stand-up comedy shows. Michèle has appeared in many TV shows, including What Now, 7Days and The Project, and was the winner…
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Born and raised in Christchurch, Matt attended Burnside High School. He performed in the improvisation comedy Scared Scriptless. Matt started as a teenager presenting kid's television show Squirt, before moving on to Studio 2 Live. He recently returned to New Zealand after 6 years in Sydney where he was a Senior Producer for the Australian Broadcas…
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Kaitlin completed a Bachelor of Broadcasting Communications in Journalism at the New Zealand Broadcasting School. She was a newsreader and editor at Mediaworks from 2012 to 2014 before moving to TVNZ in 2015, starting off on Breakfast, before reporting for 1 NEWS, and most recently as a reporter for Fair Go. In that time, she has made her mark cove…
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Todd was born in Te Aroha and was raised in Te Puna, north of Tauranga. He attended Tauranga Boys College before earning his Master’s Degree from the University of Waikato. He joined the National Party in 1989 and from 1994 to 1997 he served as Executive Assistant to Jim Bolger during his second term as Prime Minister. He is a former University of …
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Petra has worked in TV and radio for over 30 years. She grew up in Christchurch and attended the University of Canterbury, where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She began her television career at local TV station Cry TV and later co-hosted youth TV series Ice TV and Ice As. She went on to host What’s Really In Our Food? and present TVNZ’s Br…
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Alfred Ngaro was raised in Te Atatū where he attended the local schools, played for the local Rugby clubs and was an active Te Atatū St Giles Church member. He trained and qualified as an electrician and also completed his theological degree at the Bible College of New Zealand. Prior to entering Parliament, Alfred was a consultant in community-led …
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Born in Melbourne, Antony Loewenstein is an Australian-German freelance investigative journalist, author, and filmmaker. He co-founded of Declassified Australia in 2021 to uncover Australia’s often secretive relationships with the world. He’s worked in dozens of countries worldwide and was based in South Sudan in 2015 and East Jerusalem between 201…
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Since becoming the first-ever winner of the competitive cooking reality show MasterChef over a decade ago, Australian mum-of-three Julie Goodwin has become a household name. Formerly an IT professional, Julie was thrust into the limelight and TV shows, best-selling books, radio, appearances, columns, and endorsements were all to follow. Her long-ti…
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Originally from Whangarei, Brad completed his undergraduate studies at Victoria University of Wellington, finishing with a BCom and BA. Brad joined Infometrics in July 2015 as a part-time data analyst while studying and has risen to be one of New Zealand’s most prominent and youngest economic commentators. He was appointed Chief Executive and Princ…
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Bronwyn has a background in social science education and textbook, curriculum and resource development. She researches in the fields of education policy, citizenship education, youth sociology, youth politics and geographies. She has strongly advocated for lowering the voting age to 16 in New Zealand and enhancing civics education in schools. In 20…
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Rangi's career in Māori astronomy began in 1995 when he asked his grandfather about Matariki. He went on to write his MA thesis on traditional Tūhoe weaponry, and his 2006 PhD at Massey University was titled Te Reo Pāho: Māori Radio and Language Revitalisation. He moved to the University of Waikato, becoming a Māori and Indigenous Studies professor…
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Courtney Johnston took up the role of Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive at Te Papa Museum in 2019. Raised on a dairy farm in Taranaki, Courtney has lived and worked in Wellington since 2000. She holds a Masters in Art History from Victoria University of Wellington, and was the 2015 recipient of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Scholarship to resear…
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Lan is a proud mother who grew up in Wellington and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in ecology from Massey University before moving to the South Island to work for the Department of Conservation in freshwater ecology, which prompted an interest in freshwater fish. She completed a Master of Science in ecology at the University of Otago. Lan was…
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The CEO of one of the country’s most prominent international aid agencies believes “rampant inequality” in our supply chains makes it near-impossible to make totally ethical decisions about the things we buy. Ian McInnes, who heads up Christian non-profit Tearfund, says Kiwis “haven’t got a clue” how to avoid buying consumer goods that have involve…
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Shaun Wallace is almost always the smartest person in the room. Known best as the ‘Dark Destroyer’ from TVNZ1’s The Chase, Wallace is a quizzing master and one of just five people deemed clever enough to be among the show’s chasers. But he was never meant to make it to these heights. “People think I was born rich, they think I was born clever, they…
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Lotta Dann is a former TV journalist, producer, and director turned author when she got sober in 2011. She became a household name when she confessed on national television in 2014 that she had a drinking problem. Lotta grew up in Christchurch, the second of four sisters. Her dad, leading QC Chris McVeigh, was famed for his role in the iconic Kiwi …
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It was the height of Covid-19 in 2020 when Emma Espiner graduated from medicine school. The broadcaster, political commentator and now-surgeon had mixed emotions about being thrown into work at Middlemore Hospital in the middle of a global pandemic. “It was really frightening, but it was also really interesting because I was glad to have something …
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