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Kiwi Mountaineers to pay unique tribute to Sir Ed

Kiwi Mountaineers to pay unique tribute to one of their own

The New Zealand Alpine Club will be honouring Sir Edmund Hillary with a guard of honour and an informal memorial as part of Tuesday’s farewell.

NZAC, on behalf of the Mountaineering, Antarctic and adventure sports communities, have been working with government officials over the last week to organise an alpine guard of honour at the official state funeral.

“The forty people to form the guard of honour will represent the diversity of NZ mountaineering – a mixture of generations, genders and contributions,” said NZAC President Phil Doole.

All members of the guard of honour will carry with them a long-handled wooden ice axe as a symbolic salute to Sir Ed and the great mountaineering achievements of his generation.

The guard of honour will feature some of New Zealand’s most respected climbers and will form outside the church for the cortege to pass through before it proceeds to the Domain.

Following the state funeral at 2.30pm, an outside gathering is being organised in Auckland Domain, immediately adjacent to the band rotunda, regardless of any forecast rain.

The gathering is being arranged by NZAC as an opportunity for some of Sir Ed’s friends from his work and expeditions to share their memories with the wider climbing and outdoors community in an informal setting.

“It is an opportunity for people to come to hear about Sir Ed’s spirit of adventure and humanitarian work in a way he would have appreciated – with stories and humour,” said NZAC President Phil Doole.

As well as reflecting on Sir Ed’s exploits as a climber, explorer and humanitarian, a video display will also show how he has inspired many people to seek out their own personal Everests.

Amongst the speakers will be George Band, Graeme Dingle, Ang Rita, Mike Gill, Lydia Brady, David Ellis, Norman Hardie, Bruce Jefferies, and Diane and John McKinnon.


Notes for Editors

The New Zealand Alpine Club is the country’s leading climbing organisation with over 3000 members. Sir Edmund Hillary was a club member from 1945, president of the club for two years and was made a life member in 1953. He has actively supported many NZAC initiatives, the latest of which involved fund-raising for the NZAC’s Home of Mountaineering building in Christchurch which he opened in August 2006.

Biographical Details

George Band – George Band was the youngest member of the expedition that first climbed Everest, and is the Chairman of the Himalaya Trust in the UK

Graeme Dingle – Graeme Dingle is one of New Zealand’s most charismatic climbers who, true to the spirit of Sir Ed, used his status to inspire and lead the Project K programme that has transformed the lives of many young New Zealanders.

Mike Gill – a keen climber and doctor, Mike was a natural fit for many of Sir Ed’s exploits, combining adventure with important work to improve the medical facilities of the Nepalese people.

Lydia Brady – the first woman to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen, Lydia is one of New Zealand’s most well-known climbers.

David Ellis – David is the son of Murray Ellis, who was charged with the formidable task of maintaining the Kiwi team’s Massey Ferguson tractors on their way to the South Pole, led by Sir Ed. David continued the family connection with Sir Ed’s work.

Norman Hardie – Norman first met Sir Ed on an epic rescue in the Southern Alps in 1948, Norman climbed, adventured and worked with Sir Ed many times since then and was on the board of the Himalaya Trust for 22 years.

Bruce Jefferies – Bruce is a well-regarded conservationist who has worked both in New Zealand and Nepal.

John and Diane McKinnon – John and Diane have worked in the Himalayas with Sir Ed since John was a young medical student in 1964.


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