7 episodes

Our Forgotten Epidemic is a six-part series about Aotearoa New Zealand's response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

Now, you might already be aware of the AIDS epidemic. But this is a version of the story you likely haven't heard — a story of perseverance, tragedy and above all hope.

Told through interviews, archival audio, and historical sources, this podcast examines the past 40 years of HIV and AIDS in Aotearoa.

Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to share the parts of the story we do have the privilege to tell.

Our Forgotten Epidemic Burnett Foundation Aotearoa (formerly New Zealand AIDS Foundation)

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 17 Ratings

Our Forgotten Epidemic is a six-part series about Aotearoa New Zealand's response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

Now, you might already be aware of the AIDS epidemic. But this is a version of the story you likely haven't heard — a story of perseverance, tragedy and above all hope.

Told through interviews, archival audio, and historical sources, this podcast examines the past 40 years of HIV and AIDS in Aotearoa.

Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to share the parts of the story we do have the privilege to tell.

    Part 1: An epidemic arrives

    Part 1: An epidemic arrives

    In the early 1980s, people in Aotearoa started hearing rumours of a new, mystery illness that seemed to mostly be killing gay men overseas.

    Early rhetoric around the illness, still without an official name or known means of acquisition, was overtly homophobic and harmful. Rainbow media, such as Pink Triangle, the newspaper of the National Gay Rights Coalition of New Zealand, had some early articles in their health sections. But, on the whole, the government, mainstream media, the wider public, and even the medical community largely knew nothing or thought it was just ‘something going on overseas’.

    Then, Kiwis began coming home sick… and several brave people stood up and demanded that people take notice before it was too late.


    Thanks for listening to Our Forgotten Epidemic, a show about Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

    Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to be able to tell part of this important story from the perspectives of some truly remarkable people. And we want to acknowledge there’s so much more than we can tell in this short series. 


    Our Forgotten Epidemic was produced by Wavelength Creative, in collaboration with Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
    Written and researched by Alyssa Partington, Matt Bain and Dr Jason Myers.
    Music composed by Alex Cox | alexcoxmusic.com
    Hosted and narrated by Dr Jason Myers.
    Many of the voices you’ve heard in this episode are from a series of interviews conducted by Dr Cheryl Ware in 2019 for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Oral History Project.
    Thanks to Pride NZ for allowing us to use portions of an interview with Kate Leslie. You can listen to this interview in full, alongside many others, at PrideNZ.com
    The audio featuring Bruce Burnett and Phil Parkinson is from the Gay Broadcasting Collective Wellington, held at the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, Te Pūranga Takatāpui o Aotearoa (LAGANZ).
    Special thanks to our test listeners including staff living with HIV at Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, Gareth Watkins, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand and PrideNZ.com
    Special thanks also goes to Peter Davis for his excellent book, Intimate Details and Vital Statistics: AIDS, Sexuality and the Social Order in New Zealand.

    This show is produced in collaboration with Wavelength Creative. Visit wavelengthcreative.com for more information.

    • 46 min
    Part 2: Who was Bruce Burnett?

    Part 2: Who was Bruce Burnett?

    Bruce Burnett is a name everyone should know — a name that should sit alongside all of New Zealand’s heroes. 

    Instead, until recently, his legacy seemed to be in danger of being forgotten — other than by the people he worked with, those whose lives were saved by his actions, and the organisation that now bears his name. 

    Bruce’s selfless contributions to our nation saved countless lives, and we owe it to him to remember who he was.


    Thanks for listening to Our Forgotten Epidemic, a show about Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

    Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to be able to tell part of this important story from the perspectives of some truly remarkable people. And we want to acknowledge there’s so much more than we can tell in this short series. 


    Our Forgotten Epidemic was produced by Wavelength Creative, in collaboration with Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
    Written and researched by Alyssa Partington, Matt Bain and Dr Jason Myers.
    Music composed by Alex Cox | alexcoxmusic.com
    Hosted and narrated by Dr Jason Myers.
    Many of the voices you’ve heard in this episode are from a series of interviews conducted by Dr Cheryl Ware in 2019 for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Oral History Project.
    Thanks to Keith Robinson and Robyn Mihaere for allowing us to interview them for this project.
    The “What’s on in Auckland” radio clips you heard in this episode were from a Radio Gala Auckland broadcast, now held at the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, Te Pūranga Takatāpui o Aotearoa (LAGANZ).
    The audio you heard of Bruce Burnett in this episode is from the August 1984 AIDS Road Show meeting at Alfie's in Auckland, recorded by Graham Underhill, which is held at the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, Te Pūranga Takatāpui o Aotearoa (LAGANZ).
    Special thanks to our test listeners including staff living with HIV at Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, Gareth Watkins, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand and PrideNZ.com
    Special thanks also goes to Peter Davis for his excellent book, Intimate Details and Vital Statistics: AIDS, Sexuality and the Social Order in New Zealand.

    This show is produced in collaboration with Wavelength Creative. Visit wavelengthcreative.com for more information.

    • 1 hr
    Part 3: Our communities take action

    Part 3: Our communities take action

    The people most affected by AIDS in the early 1980s were gay men, people who injected drugs and sex workers — those who were already on the margins of society.

    At that time in New Zealand, all anal sex, the possession of drug paraphernalia and sex work were illegal. As the threat of HIV and AIDS became more widely known, the stigma and discrimination these communities faced only intensified.

    Something had to change — starting with those archaic laws. This was an ugly time for our nation; but it was also a time of perseverance, hope, and standing up for our human rights.


    Thanks for listening to Our Forgotten Epidemic, a show about Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

    Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to be able to tell part of this important story from the perspectives of some truly remarkable people. And we want to acknowledge there’s so much more than we can tell in this short series. 


    Our Forgotten Epidemic was produced by Wavelength Creative, in collaboration with Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
    Written and researched by Alyssa Partington, Matt Bain and Dr Jason Myers.
    Music composed by Alex Cox | alexcoxmusic.com
    Hosted and narrated by Dr Jason Myers.
    Many of the voices you’ve heard in this episode are from a series of interviews conducted by Dr Cheryl Ware in 2019 for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Oral History Project.
    Thanks to Pride NZ for allowing us to use portions of an interview with Bruce Kilmister. You can listen to this interview in full, alongside many others, at PrideNZ.com
    Thanks to Ian Kaihe-Wetting for the reading of Tūtānekai and Tiki.
    The audio concerning Homosexual Law Reform you heard in this episode was recorded in Parliament House, and is held at the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, Te Pūranga Takatāpui o Aotearoa (LAGANZ).
    The radio clips you heard in this episode were from a Radio Gala Auckland broadcast, now held at the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, Te Pūranga Takatāpui o Aotearoa (LAGANZ).
    Special thanks to our test listeners including staff living with HIV at Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, Gareth Watkins, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand and PrideNZ.com
    Special thanks also goes to Peter Davis for his excellent book, Intimate Details and Vital Statistics: AIDS, Sexuality and the Social Order in New Zealand.

    This show is produced in collaboration with Wavelength Creative. Visit wavelengthcreative.com for more information.

    • 51 min
    Part 4: How we lost so many

    Part 4: How we lost so many

    By the mid-1980s, knowledge of HIV and AIDS had entered the public consciousness. Safer sex practices and prevention messaging were being promoted by advocacy and support groups, medical organisations and the government.

    But an HIV diagnosis was still considered by many to be a death sentence. There was no treatment in those years, and, for most, the only support that could be offered was grief counselling and palliative care.  

    Jane Bruning, Bruce Kilmister and Michael Stevens, long-term survivors living with HIV, share their experiences and reflections on the most challenging chapter of the HIV and AIDS response here and across the globe.


    Thanks for listening to Our Forgotten Epidemic, a show about Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

    Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to be able to tell part of this important story from the perspectives of some truly remarkable people. And we want to acknowledge there’s so much more than we can tell in this short series. 


    Our Forgotten Epidemic was produced by Wavelength Creative, in collaboration with Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
    Written and researched by Alyssa Partington, Matt Bain and Dr Jason Myers.
    Music composed by Alex Cox | alexcoxmusic.com
    Hosted and narrated by Dr Jason Myers.
    Many of the voices you’ve heard in this episode are from a series of interviews conducted by Dr Cheryl Ware in 2019 for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Oral History Project.
    Many thanks to Pride NZ for allowing us to use portions of an interview with Jane Bruning. You can listen to this interview in full, alongside many others, at PrideNZ.com
    Thanks to all the NZAF staff members who contributed their voices to the ‘Quilts’ section.
    Special thanks to our test listeners including staff living with HIV at Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, Gareth Watkins, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand and PrideNZ.com
    Special thanks also goes to Peter Davis for his excellent book, Intimate Details and Vital Statistics: AIDS, Sexuality and the Social Order in New Zealand.

    This show is produced in collaboration with Wavelength Creative. Visit wavelengthcreative.com for more information.

    • 56 min
    Part 5: Do we dare to hope?

    Part 5: Do we dare to hope?

    In 1995, the New York Times reported that complications from AIDS were the leading cause of death for adults aged 25-44 in the US. Although Aotearoa still had relatively low rates of around 100 cases per year, public perception of HIV and AIDS had shifted.

    AIDS could no longer be reduced to a ‘gay disease’ or ‘a disease of the Hs’ (homosexuals, heroin users, haemophiliacs, and Haitians). It could affect anyone.

    Finding effective treatment was a race against the clock, a battle that the world needed to be united in fighting.


    Thanks for listening to Our Forgotten Epidemic, a show about Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

    Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to be able to tell part of this important story from the perspectives of some truly remarkable people. And we want to acknowledge there’s so much more than we can tell in this short series. 


    Our Forgotten Epidemic was produced by Wavelength Creative, in collaboration with Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
    Written and researched by Alyssa Partington, Matt Bain and Dr Jason Myers.
    Music composed by Alex Cox | alexcoxmusic.com
    Hosted and narrated by Dr Jason Myers.
    Many of the voices you’ve heard in this episode are from a series of interviews conducted by Dr Cheryl Ware in 2019 for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Oral History Project.
    Many thanks to Pride NZ for allowing us to use portions of an interview with Bruce Kilmister. You can listen to this interview in full, alongside many others, at PrideNZ.com
    Special thanks to our test listeners including staff living with HIV at Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, Gareth Watkins, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand and PrideNZ.com
    Special thanks also goes to Peter Davis for his excellent book, Intimate Details and Vital Statistics: AIDS, Sexuality and the Social Order in New Zealand.

    This show is produced in collaboration with Wavelength Creative. Visit wavelengthcreative.com for more information.

    • 43 min
    Part 6: Our future is our past

    Part 6: Our future is our past

    There’s a lot to be proud of in the response to HIV and AIDS in Aotearoa. We’ve come a long way since the early 1980s — but the mahi isn’t over just yet. 

    Since the discovery of life-saving treatment, much has happened in the HIV space. Prevention, testing, treatment, combating HIV stigma, and educating the public have never been more important. 

    This is not the end of, or the whole story, but a beginning. In this very short series, we’ve been proud to share parts of this important legacy. Still, we know there are many more stories to tell, many other pieces of work that deserve recognition, and so many more incredible people who should be celebrated. We hope this series can be the start of bringing to light those stories yet to be told.


    Thanks for listening to Our Forgotten Epidemic, a show about Aotearoa New Zealand’s response to HIV and AIDS, and some of the many brave individuals who changed the course of history.

    Burnett Foundation Aotearoa is proud to be able to tell part of this important story from the perspectives of some truly remarkable people. And we want to acknowledge there’s so much more than we can tell in this short series. 


    Our Forgotten Epidemic was produced by Wavelength Creative, in collaboration with Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.
    Written and researched by Alyssa Partington, Matt Bain and Dr Jason Myers.
    Music composed by Alex Cox | alexcoxmusic.com
    Hosted and narrated by Dr Jason Myers.
    Many of the voices you’ve heard in this episode are from a series of interviews conducted by Dr Cheryl Ware in 2019 for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation Oral History Project.
    Many thanks to Pride NZ for allowing us to use portions of the interviews with Jane Bruning and Kate Leslie. You can listen to these interviews in full, alongside many others, at PrideNZ.com
    Thanks to Keith Robinson, Robyn Mihaere and Ian Kaihe-Wetting for allowing us to interview them for this project.
    The interview with Bruce Richman you heard in this episode was conducted for NZAF in 2018 by Dr Jason Myers.
    Special thanks to our test listeners including staff living with HIV at Burnett Foundation Aotearoa, Gareth Watkins, the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand and PrideNZ.com
    Special thanks also goes to Peter Davis for his excellent book, Intimate Details and Vital Statistics: AIDS, Sexuality and the Social Order in New Zealand.

    This show is produced in collaboration with Wavelength Creative. Visit wavelengthcreative.com for more information.

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
17 Ratings

17 Ratings

Erin_says_hi ,

A must listen

Only one ep in and eager to hear/learn more.

NVDA wallah ,

Our Forgotten Epidemic

Ngā mihi! Lest we forget. Tom.

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