Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
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Nearly 55 years ago, on 29 May 1953, two men scaled what was then considered by many to be the unassailable challenge of Mount Everest – the world’s highest mountain. One was a Sherpa whose name would enter mountaineering legend, Tenzing Norgay; the other a rugged, unassuming Kiwi called Edmund Hillary.
Today, after his death on 11 January, the latter’s body lies in state in New Zealand and thousands of his countrymen and women are paying their respects to this great man. “New Zealand has lost its greatest hero,” said Prime Minister Helen Clark.
From afar we add our own tribute. For countless Kiwis like myself, Sir Ed, as he was commonly known, was an inspiration, a humble man from a humble background, a man who put our country on the map and dared us all to dream.
It is no overstatement to say he helped define our young nation and he did it – both during that great climb and throughout his life – with immense dignity and humanity.
Today at Auckland’s Anglican Cathedral, representatives of Ngati Whatua, the local Maori tribe, gave a traditional welcome as his body was carried slowly across a windswept forecourt. Kiwis were joined by representatives of the Nepalese community to whom he had dedicated so much of his life after the great achievement which he always so downplayed.
All Kiwis feel a deep sadness at Sir Ed’s passing but also an immense pride in what he taught us about ourselves. May his soul rest in peace.