'I'm still pinching myself' - Kiwi plays leading role on Sir David Attenborough's epic new BBC series Blue Planet II

It's breath-taking, it's intense, it's moving and that's just the opening to the New Zealand segment of the BBC's Blue Planet II.

The chase scene featuring a pod of bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales was captured by Kiwi underwater cameraman Steve Hathaway.

"My big memory is just the noise. All these big clicks and sequels – just reverberates through your body. You've got nearly a thousand animals and all this noise is coming towards you," Steve told 1 NEWS NOW.

Three years ago the underwater diver was approached by the BBC to film a trial shoot for the network’s biggest marine documentary, Blue Planet II.

The task was to film false killer whales off the coast of New Zealand.

"We had a 10 day shoot and I thought over 10 days we would be lucky to find false killer whales.

"On the very first day of the shoot we got a phone call at 7.30 in the morning and a plane down in Tairua saying we found them. I was like 'what the heck?' and we went down there and had them five days in a row."

Impressed by the incredible footage, the BBC gave the green light and Steve was hired to film for the documentary.

Over 50 days Steve and his team captured the amazing footage which features in Blue Planet II.

"False killer whales are an oceanic animal and they travel huge distances every day. To find them is incredibly difficult because they’re nowhere near the coast.

"So we had planes up in the air most days and for the shoot itself we were on call for nearly 50 days – it was amazing; to get a small segment, to get that footage."

Blue Planet II’s debut in the UK saw over 10 million people tune in to watch.

Being a part of one of the biggest animal documentaries in the world was a career highlight for the cameraman from Snells Beach who gave up his construction business 10 years ago to follow his passion.

"I'm still pinching myself to be involved with Blue Planet II.

"Three years ago when I started filming for this and I had the camera on my knee and false killer whales coming towards me and I had the director of Open Ocean Blue Planet I on my boat and I was the cameraman.

"And then to hear and see this footage with Sir David Attenborough speaking over top of it, it's unbelievable. Pretty hard to improve on the CV with this one."

At the premiere of the show in Bristol last month, Steve got to meet the most iconic voice in television – Sir David Attenborough.

"Sir David Attenborough had come over and congratulated us. He said to all the team, 'you guys deserve all the credit and you’ve been out there doing it', he goes, 'I'm just the voice.' I'm like, 'you're more than just the voice!'"

"But he realises that there's teams that have spent years out in the field trying to get some of this footage."

Steve says he's full of pride that not only does he get to showcase his work to the world, he gets to also show the beauty of New Zealand and its wildlife to millions worldwide.

"It's the most special thing to have a New Zealand story in Blue Planet II. I think the underwater world of New Zealand is our greatest untold story.

"To have that showcased to hundreds of millions of people was just absolutely insane."

To find more out about Steve and his work you can check out his website, Young Ocean Explorers, which he started with his 16-year-old daughter. 

Tune in for Blue Planet II's New Zealand premiere on TVNZ’s 1 on Sunday at 7.30pm.

Underwater cameraman Steve Hathaway plays a leading role in Sir David Attenborough’s new BBC series. Source: 1 NEWS



Aussie scientists make genetic breakthrough in battle to eradicate cane toads

Australia's self-inflicted cane toad invasion may soon be over after scientists cracked the deadly amphibian's DNA code.

International scientists working with UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney and Deakin University have unlocked more than 90 per cent of the invasive amphibian's genome.

The poisonous toads have wreaked havoc on northern quolls, freshwater crocodiles and several species of native lizards and snakes since their introduction in Queensland in 1935 to help control cane beetles.

Millions of toads now occupy more than 1.2 million square kilometres of Australia following a seemingly unstoppable march across the top end.

Virologist Professor Peter White says despite the pesky cane toad's iconic status there were major gaps in the scientific community's understanding of its genetics.

"But we've now got the blueprint as well as the plans to the factory," he told AAP.

Already Mr White's team has used the toad's genetics to find three new viruses that with further work may become biocontrols to stem the toad's march across the country.

"We're now going to see how prevalent they are in the population, going all the way back to South America, and then we'll see how pathogenic they are," he said.

"Hopefully, they're very pathogenic, and then we can begin testing them."

Mr White said the team needed to be sure any biocontrol created won't affect native amphibians.

"We don't want to introduce anything that's going to kill frogs or newts, it has to be cane toad specific," he said.

Viruses have previously been successfully used to control the European rabbit population.

The findings were published in the academic journal GigaScience.

SYDNEY, NSW - AUGUST 09:  A Cane Toad is exhibited at Taronga Zoo August 9, 2005 in Sydney, Australia. The Cane Toad, which is poisonous, is reportedly being blamed for the deaths of a number of Australia's most dangerous predator, the Salt Water Crocodile. A three-metre long crocodile was found dead by a local crocodile tour operator last week in the Adelaide River, with the tourism operator suspecting the reptile had been poisoned after eating a toad. The director of Wildlife Management International, Graeme Webb, says he suspects that up to "20 to 30 per cent" of fresh water crocodiles will be lost to cane toads in this way.    (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
Cane toad Source: Getty

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'Angel' takes disabled friend on 'wacky' world adventures and is rewarded with $10,000

A young woman who has taken a teenager with cerebral palsy on adventures around the world, donated a kidney to an old school friend and helped many others has been rewarded with $10,000 for more adventures and to look after herself for a change.

Leah Stewart, who's 23, is the winner of this week's ASB Good as Gold award on TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Donating an organ and helping others were on a bucket list Leah wrote when she was just 16, and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. 

Nineteen-year-old Alicia Kapa - Leah's best friend - and Mum Joanna Kapa have really appreciated Leah's help.

Joanna explained that Alicia wasn't breathing when she was born and has cerebral palsy as a result of that lack of oxygen. 

"She loves adventure and her and her best mate Leah have travelled around the world and done all sports of crazy, crazy things," Joanna said.

These have included a cruise in the Bahamas, adventures in New York and bungy jumping.

Joanna said it means a huge amount to her that Alicia is "getting out and doing stuff that everybody at her age should be able to do, that she's safe, she hasn't got her mother hanging around with her, which is a big thing".

Alicia agreed with that last point.

She's everything that you would think when you think of an angel - Joanna Kapa

Joanna said Leah is "everything that you would think when you think of an angel".

While Alicia declared: "Leah is an amazing friend to me."

Leah and Alicia's adventures have been documented in videos on their own YouTube channel called 'Wheely Wacky Adventures".

Reporter Sam Wallace surprised Leah in suburban Auckland telling her ASB want to give her $5000 for some more Wheely Wacky Adventures, and $5000 "for you to look after yourself because you never do it".

"That sounds amazing," said a stunned Leah as she hugged Alicia in her wheelchair out on the street, surrounded by friends.

Leah admitted she has helped "a few" people and said just over a year ago she donated her left kidney to a friend from high school and "thinks" she saved her life.

The win will help with a trip she and Alicia booked themselves next week because they were missing each other. 

"And the whole thing went on my credit card because I had no money in the bank. And I knew I had some big student loans coming up. I was planning on calling the IRD on Monday and sorting out one of them," Leah said.

This giving friend can relax a little now - until the next wacky adventure.

Leah Stewart wrote her list when she was 16 and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. Source: Seven Sharp


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Auckland boy who lost his dad to cancer thriving through programme helping young rugby players

A programme in West Auckland is coaching rugby coaches to help young players develop life skills to deal with big challenges.

Jonesy's Youth Foundation was set up by Michael Jones - who shares his name with the legendary former All Black.

"The idea came to me through Massey Rugby Club. There was a boy who's mum got killed about 14 years ago, and for some reason it stuck with me all that time, 'what did the rugby club do to help him after the situation?'" Jones told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp. 

Through the foundation, men run courses for coaches of junior rugby players.

"What the courses will do is it'll teach the coach to be able to integrate rugby skills with character development and life skill development," Mr Jones said."

It's about developing the young players "as people first," he said.

Ben Allen - or 'Pies' as he's known coaches schoolboy rugby player Connor O'Donnell. Connor's Dad, Shaun, died four years ago from cancer.

Mr Allen said he teaches Connor, "things like communication and talking to his teammates and encouraging each other which are all important traits that you need in life".

"I'll never replace Shaun. He was an amazing Dad and and an amazing guy."

He's really good and he's helped me with confidence and things like that. - Junior rugby player Connor O'Donnell

Connor reckons 'Pies' is an amazing coach.

"He's really good and he's helped me with confidence and things like that."

Connor's Mum, Helen O'Donnell, said she promised his Dad before he died that she'd keep his love and passion for rugby going, but struggled with how she'd do that. She said Shaun would be "absolutely over the moon" that she's been able to keep that promise.  

The foundation has had some high-profile helping hands like former All Black Josh Kronfeld. 

Kronfeld said the coaches help the players with, "how to deal with pressure, how to deal with the bad moments, and loss, all those things".

Jonesy - who's also a Dad - says the foundation is there for for the long haul.

"We're here forever. We want to see him develop and grow [into] that 18 and 20-year-old when he gets a job."

Jonesy's Youth Foundation is having a Gala Dinner this Saturday. If you want tickets, the details are on Seven Sharp's Facebook page.


Jonesy's Youth Foundation is there for Connor O'Donnell, and others, in their time of need. Source: Seven Sharp


Roseanne Barr plans to leave the US to 'escape negativity'

Controversial TV star Roseanne Barr has revealed she intends to travel to Israel when the Roseanne spin-off airs because she doesn't want to "get drawn into a negative thing".

The 65-year-old actress' eponymous sitcom was axed earlier this year after she posted an offensive message about Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former US President Barack Obama, on Twitter, and Roseanne has now revealed why she plans to leave the US before The Conners airs in October.

She shared: "Oh, yeah, I don't want to be around, because I, you know, I'll get drawn into a negative thing.

"Defending myself or being angry for being mischaracterised and, you know, I don't ... I want to stay away from it. I want to stay in a joyous, positive, happy place that I've worked my way to again in my life."

The Conners will feature all of the main cast of the original show except Rosanne, who plans to focus on her Hebrew while in Israel.

She told The Dr. Oz Show: "I want to be able to learn Hebrew, speak Hebrew fluently, because, you know, I read very slow but I know the letters and I love the letters, but, I want to speak it.

"And also I have quite a few teachers over the years that live there and, you know, I want to study."

Meanwhile, Roseanne recently revealed the spin-off show will kill off her character with an "overdose".

The actress claimed that her character will meet her end at the hands of an "opioid overdose", which she says is "cruelly insulting" to the fans of the original programme.

Roseanne said: "Oh ya, they killed her. They have her die of an opioid overdose.

"There's nothing I can do about it. It's done. It's over. [But it] so cruelly insults the people who loved that family in that show."

Her show was cancelled by ABC following her comments directed at a former advisor to Barack Obama.
Source: 1 NEWS