"A lion does not concern himself with the opinions of a sheep"

Photography by
Rita Kluge 
Avalon Headland

Blaze! It's such a unique name. Whats the symbolism behind it?
My parents actually copied the name from a friend of theirs who was named Blaise but changed the spelling to add a Z because they thought that was way cooler! Blaze means fire too so it's definitely a strong name that I've learnt to grow into.

The Living Ocean organisation are such an incredible bunch of people. Helping to keep our local beaches clean, they also support like-minded businesses and individuals. Their efforts with helping the future of our oceans is an integral part of who they are. How long have you been involved with the Living Ocean community and what does being part of the community mean to you?
 I began working with the Living Ocean crew when I was just 14 (I'm nearly 18 now) and it's honestly been the best experience for me. I've been out on the Living Ocean whale research boat photographing and studying the behaviour of migrating whales. I've done numerous beach cleanups, assisted in fundraising for both Living Ocean and like-minded organisations, where I have also assisted in running stalls and markets for Living Ocean. I have been given so many opportunities through Living Ocean and it has definitely taught me to have a new outlook on life, and to manage our impact on the environment. Being a surfer and ocean lover automatically makes me an environmentalist and therefore I feel I have a responsibility to uphold ocean conservation. This is what being a part of the Living Ocean team is all about.

It’s no secret that you love to surf. How long have you been surfing and what does being surrounded by the ocean mean to you?

My Dad has been a hard core surfer for 50 years so it was inevitable that I would grow up to be a surfer. I've been in and around the ocean ever since I was born. I started surfing when I was just 4 years old. The ocean to me is my place to destress and reflect on my life. Everyone around me knows that I start to go insane if I don't get in the ocean nearly every day and when life gets hard and I find myself stressing, the first thing I do is jump in the ocean (even if it's freezing and the middle of winter)! It's a place where I can go and be happy, whether that's surfing with all my friends and family or surfing alone, I always feel better after I get out of the ocean.

Where are your favourite surf spots?

I recently travelled to the Mentawai Islands, remote islands off the coast of Indonesia with my Dad and sister and it was the most incredible trip of my life. Surfing perfect, uncrowded waves in tropical paradise was a dream so nothing can beat that but in terms of surfing in Australia, I love the Gold Coast, I think every surfer has a bit of a love-hate relationship with Snapper Rocks haha !! I also love Crescent Head and the back beaches around there. Seal Rocks is beautiful and can get super fun, uncrowded waves too. And of course all my local beaches!

Does the school you go to take part in environmental projects, implement environmental awareness into their curriculum? Are there ways in which they're helping to reduce plastic waste?

I recently moved schools for my senior years of high school (I'm in year 12 now) and my new school is very active in implementing strategies to support environmentalism and ocean conservation since our school is very close to the beach. I'm currently studying Geography at school and our focus right now in class is learning about the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and management strategies in regards to the reef environment. It's been really interesting to learn about!
What's one positive step towards looking after our planet that you'd like to take in the near future?

Recently, I have made a conscious effort to lower my single use plastic consumption by using a bamboo straw, not using plastic bags and using a reusable water bottle and it has made me feel so much better knowing that I am actively supporting our oceans. I also always pick up a few pieces of rubbish every time I leave the beach because I think beach cleanups make a real difference and are so easy to do. I think it would be amazing to one day live a plastic free life but in terms of the near future, I would love to start holding regular beach cleanups within the community and creating awareness around the problems being caused in our ocean by plastic consumption.

What’s next for Blaze?!

Well for me, once I finish high school I have my heart set on studying psychology at university and eventually becoming a research neuropsychologist. Until then, I want to continue surfing as much as possible, working more as a model and influencer, which is my current job as well as being as involved in environmentalism as much as I can. I'm so excited to start living my life outside of high school. I aim to be as successful in life as I possibly can.

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