Steve Hathaway – award-winning marine educator

©Uli Kunz.jpg

Underwater cameraman and storyteller Steve Hathaway has won the 2019 BLAKE Environmental Award – a prize given in the memory of Sir Peter Blake that recognises inspirational New Zealanders who’ve shown determination and a belief in achieving extraordinary things.

Steve is from Snells Beach where he founded Young Ocean Explorers with his daughter Riley in 2012. Together they have inspired thousands of school children to take better care of our oceans.

©Uli Kunz

©Uli Kunz

“It was a huge surprise to get this award,” he says. “You look around at other people doing amazing stuff, and to get singled out is a great honour. It also opens up doors – new people will start following what we’re doing. We’ve got a vision and also need other people to come onboard and partner with us.”

Steve says the award means a lot to him, especially since Sir Peter Blake was one of his heroes.

“He was really ahead of the curve as far as the ocean was concerned. Some of the stuff he was saying over 20 years ago we’re only starting to catch up on now. One thing that really inspires me about him was just his vision for educating kids. I saw a video of Sir Peter Blake where he was talking about how he wanted to take educational videos about the ocean into every classroom around the world. All the hairs on my body just stood up, because a week or two later we were launching our Young Ocean Explorers website and videos at the Sir Peter Blake room at the Auckland Museum.”

Steve says he feels it’s important to give the next generation hope for the future.

“Kids these days are constantly being bombarded by messages about our climate emergency – that there’s only 12 years left, things like that. But we want to say that there is hope. We can turn it around.”

“But if we don’t want to do anything ourselves, we can’t expect anybody else to change. Yes, you are only one of billions of people on the planet, but we can start small. Think about your own use – buy stuff that lasts longer, buy presents that will be used more than just a couple of times.”

Steve has called his latest project the 21 Day Challenge.

“In the leadup to America’s Cup in 2021, our aim is to get over 2,000 classrooms helping to restore the health of the Hauraki Gulf and beyond. So kids will have three challenges to complete over 21 days: pick up a piece of plastic every day; make a video around an issue or cool idea; and think about how they’re gonna make that video go far and wide.”

When he’s not creating dramatic underwater footage for BBC and the likes, Steve likes to spend time snorkelling at some of his favourite local spots, like Tawharanui.

“A lot of people don’t think of it as a snorkelling destination, but just go off the side of the rocks when there is no swell. There’s plenty of days when it’s really calm and you can see lots of crayfish, snapper and eagle rays. It’s a beautiful reserve.”

Susannah Marshall