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Marine-keen teen dives into new role

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014
Riley interviews Dr Ingrid Visser

ON SET: Riley interviews Dr Ingrid Visser for an orca story with Algies Bay cameraman Matt Gerrand.

Riley Hathaway and producer Craig Henderson
OCEAN ODYSSEY: Riley Hathaway and producer Craig Henderson, both from Snells Beach.

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Teen Riley Hathaway has been living "the life of Riley".

The Mahurangi College student from Snells Beach is about to make a splash on national TV this weekend when she appears live on children's programme What Now to introduce her mini marine environment series.

She will travel to Christchurch on Saturday, then talk to presenters at the TV2 studios on Sunday morning about the programmes before the first episode airs.

The 13-year-old is a keen marine conservationist and has already had a taste of the limelight when she was a youth shark ambassador last year for the NZ Shark Alliance protesting against shark finning.

Sunday kicks off the first of the 10-episode series of three-minute videos Young Ocean Explorers, aimed at children and perhaps similar to a more adult version of Dora the Explorer.

On each segment Riley talks to various scientists and marine personalities about the marine environment, including diving legend Wade Doak and orca researcher Ingrid Visser.

Stunning underwater footage comes from her dad, underwater cameraman Steve Hathaway.

Most of the filming was done in the summer holidays, including many interviews at Leigh and Omaha.

Getting orca footage saw the crew venture out on the Whangarei Harbour in Dr Visser's boat after a report orca had been seen.

"The whole thing was so much fun," Riley says. "I'd love to be able to do something like this as a job in the future."

The whole series is a bit of a who's who of Snells Beach and Algies Bay. Director Craig Henderson is also from Snells Beach and top side cameraman Matt Gerrand is from Algies Bay.

Omaha marine biologist Roger Grace also gets involved in a segment on crayfish.

While he doesn't like comparisons with Bindi Irwin, 15-year-old daughter of the late Australian environmentalist Steve Irwin, Steve Hathaway admits there are some similarities with Riley being a natural presenter.

A builder, Steve Hathaway gave that up to follow his passion for underwater videography and the marine environment six years ago. He has filmed on many underwater projects, including documentaries for the BBC and Discovery Channel.

Along with wife Jo, all four of their children are marine enthusiasts and snorkelers, and have been part of his larger-than-life adventure ever since.

For Riley, getting the confidence to appear in front of the camera for the marine series came from doing a voice-over and interview in a short video as a Mahurangi College project on the dangers of plastic to sea turtles, and a video piece as shark ambassador.

What Now is on TV2 on Sunday at 7am.

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