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Prajesh Chhanabhai and Tane Whitehead

Prajesh Chhanabhai (left) and Tane Whitehead, the hosts of Baskets of Knowledge.

The transition from school to university can be an overwhelming time for many students.

To help demystify this journey, Otago’s Schools’ Liaison Officer Prajesh Chhanabhai teamed up with then second-year exercise and sports science student Tane Whitehead to start a podcast.

Called Baskets of Knowledge, the podcast initially talked about transitioning to and studying at Otago.

The podcast name comes from the Māori pūrākau [ancient legend] Ngā Kete Mātauranga, about the god Tāne travelling to the highest heaven to collect the baskets of knowledge and bring them back to humankind.

The name resonates for co-host Tane, who is now a rugby coach and trainer, because “through different life experiences you can draw from different kete”.

“I think young adults sometimes find it hard to understand that their baskets do not need to be full, that you do not need to have all the answers.

“You can keep filling your baskets with what you learn from your life experiences and from other people.”

Prajesh agrees, adding that during his travels he has seen first-hand how overwhelmed students can become during this milestone transition.

“Through this podcast we wanted to highlight all the aspects of the journey to university and to show students that as daunting as it all looked, they were capable of achieving anything they wanted to,” Prajesh says.

So began Baskets of Knowledge, which delves into a range of topics from being a year 13 student, student debt, being an international student, life in lockdown and more.

In exploring the paths students took to university, Prajesh and Tane soon realised there was a bigger story to tell.

“We found the transition to Otago was only one part of the story and decided to pivot the podcast to explore the life journeys of young adults,” Prajesh says.

“This soon expanded to speaking to youth from across the country and the world doing amazing things.”

For Tane, the power of their podcast is that “it is timeless and not targeted at any specific agenda”.

“We’ve expanded into not only talking about the challenges young people face but looking at the awesome opportunities available at university and beyond.

“With this storytelling approach, the podcast has more depth, baskets that you come back to and tap into at any time,” Tane says.

Releasing one episode a week, this Otago staff and alumnus duo tag team when it comes to producing the podcasts, with Prajesh looking for the guests to feature and Tane taking care of the technical side of things.

While one a week seems like a substantial time commitment with their day jobs to manage alongside, it’s the consistency that’s key, Prajesh says.

“We release one podcast a week to keep things going, even if we don’t have a guest to feature.

“That said, having worked for Otago for nearly 18 years now, I’ve had the privilege to meet many fascinating people in my travels who have been featured in our podcasts.”

And while there has been a wealth of inspiring guests to feature, the hardest part has been convincing people that they have something to talk about, Prajesh says.

“Most of the guests on our podcast are every day, ordinary people doing interesting, even extraordinary things.

“In our experience, everyone has a story to tell.”

~  Kōrero by Sandra French, Adviser, Internal Communications.

Baskets of Knowledge began in 2021 and has released 122 episodes to date. Notable guests include Banquer Co-CEO and Otago alumna Kendall Flutey, Young New Zealander of the Year 2023 and trans-activist Shaneel Lal, and Co-Founder, SaySo Project and Obama Leader 2023 Kii Small.

Listen to the podcast here.

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