Explorers Heroes

Sir Edmund Hillary

by Elaine from Dunedin

"In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander. I have modest abilites I combine these with determination and I rather like to succeed."

Who was the first person to climb Mt Everest? Who drove across a big chunk of Antarctica on a tractor? Who served in World War 2 as a navigator for the RNZAF? Who built schools for children who should have just as many rights as us, but some who don't? Who devoted much of their life to helping the Sherpa people? The answer ~ Sir Edmund Hillary, that's who.

Sir Edmund HIllary looking as rough as the mounta (boston globe)
Sir Edmund HIllary looking as rough as the mounta (boston globe)

Edmund Percival Hillary was born in Auckland on July 20th 1919, growing up in Auckland as well. He skipped the last two years of school. At sixteen his interest in climbing began during a school trip to Mt Ruapehu. His father was a beekeeper and he was expected to carry on the family business. He did follow in his father's footsteps for a time but at the age of 33 he was at Mt Everest with Tenzing Norgay, making that life changing journey up the summit of Everest.

To follow up Mt Everest, he founded the Himalayan trust. He spent a fair amount of his life helping the Sherpas live better lives. He was awarded the title Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He helped build schools and hospitals raising large amounts of money for the buildings as well. In turn he became the only living person to get themselves on a New Zealand bank note.

Hillarys' picture on the $5 note (
Hillarys' picture on the $5 note (

Sir Edmund Hillary is my hero because he just goes to show that normal people can make huge changes in many other peoples lives. He never gave up trying, he accomplished so many things covering such a wide range of subjects.

Unfortunately Sir Ed died on 11 January 2008 of heart failure at the age of 88. His death was announced by the New Zealand prime minister who at the time was Helen Clark. His death was recognised by lowering the New Zealand flags to half mast, his death was described as "profound loss to New Zealand." Many people gathered at his public funeral, the New Zealand flag draped over their shoulders. Sir Edmund Hillary will be remembered by all. He changed so many lives for good.

Page created on 7/5/2011 11:26:48 AM

Last edited 7/5/2011 11:26:48 AM

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