The World Mourns Our Humble Colossus
Sir Edmund Hillary – adventurer, philanthropist and global icon – has died aged 88. The lanky beekeeper from Tuakau found international fame in 1953 as the first person to scale Mt Everest, together with his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay. “In the annals of great heroic exploits, the conquest of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund and Mr. Norgay ranks with the first trek to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen in 1911 and the first solo nonstop trans-Atlantic flight by Charles A. Lindbergh in 1927,” reads his New York Times obituary. Fame did not sit easily with Sir Ed. He preferred to be known for his philanthropic work rather than his high-profile adventures, and saw his greatest achievement as the founding of the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust. Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala praised Hillary’s lifelong devotion to Nepal in an official message of condolence: “The Government and people of Nepal shall always cherish the fond memories of his selfless devotion to the cause of development of the Everest region, his human qualities and courageous spirit as well as his contribution to make Nepal known to the world.” NZ PM Helen Clark has announced a state funeral to honour the man she calls “the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived”. “Sir Ed described himself as an average New Zealander with modest abilities,” she said in her official statement. “In reality, he was a colossus. He was a heroic figure who not only knocked off Everest but lived a life of determination, humility and generosity … All New Zealanders will deeply mourn his passing.” Click here to read Sir Edmund Hillary’s NZ Edge Heroes biography, the most popular in our ongoing series.
Sir Edmund Hillary: 20 July 1919 – 11 January 2008