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Hillary Lecture Celebrates African Adventure

MEDIA RELEASE: For Immediate Release

Hillary Lecture Celebrates African Adventure

George Cunningham will speak of his incredible 27-month walk across Africa in his talk Cape to Cario – Then and Now at the 2008 Hillary Lecture at Auckland Museum.

The explorer-turned diplomat, who chronicled his continent-by-foot adventures in the book “Journey to Become a Diplomat,” is giving the fifth annual Hillary Lecture on Thursday April 3rd at Auckland Museum.

The choice of speaker is particularly fitting, given that Cunningham was the European Union's delegate at Sir Edmond Hillary's funeral.

Cunningham, newly appointed Chargé d'Affaires for the European Commission Delegation to New Zealand, trekked on foot all the way from Alexandria in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa between 1979 and 1981. ““This was to be my unique initiation into the field of international relations, very much from the bottom up,” he says.

The 7,000-mile march across Africa by Cunningham mirrored a journey taken almost a century ago by Ewart Grogan in between 1898 and 1900 – and Cunningham will talk of the differences and similarities between the two treks. While colonial domination of the continent gave way to independence in the interim, what really has changed?

Prior to becoming our Chargé d'Affaires, British-born Cunningham was the European Commission's coordinator for bilateral trade relations with the United States – he also was head of Press and Public Affairs for the European Commission at the United Nations in New York between 2000 and 2003. In his earlier days he also served as an officer in the British Army.

Cunningham's lecture “Cape to Cario” was first given at the famous Explorer's Club in New York when – coincidentally - Sir Edmond Hillary was also honorary chair.

The Hillary lecture is organised by the Museum Circle Foundation, and is named after the Foundation's late patron Sir Edmund Hillary. All proceeds from the evening will go to the Foundation to fund acquisitions for the permanent collections of Auckland Museum.

Lecture takes place 7:30pm, Thursday April 3rd in the Auditorium
Tickets $50 and require bookings. Please contact Rozelle Edwards at redwards[at]

For more information, visit


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