It’s an ongoing list (including but not limited to pohutukawa trees, Whangapoua and of course Jafas) but somewhere near the top is Edmund Hillary. Sir Ed.

There’s something about Sir Ed. Not only did he knock the bastard off but he stands for something else, something everyman. He’s one of us, even though he’s probably more than any handful of us put together. Strong as an ox (I’ll see if I can find a photo of him as a younger man holding up a dingy with all his kids in it with one hand) and stuffed full of “she’ll be right”.

I saw a documentary once with Peter Hillary talking about his old man and how it finally dawned on him what his father was really like when he almost got to the top of Everest himself for the first time. He looked up at the stretch known as Hillary’s Steps and the only thing that got him up there was knowing that others had done it before him. What was it like for his father, he wondered, who didn’t have that. How strong in spirit must he have been.

Sir Ed is on our five dollar note and he often gets them sent to him in the mail with a request for him to sign it. Sometimes people forget to include the return postage so rather than being pointed and sending them back $4.50 in change, he duly buys a stamp and returns their fiver.

He’s also in the phone book. That’s right, the man who climbed Everest is still listed in the Auckland phone book.

To me that speaks volumes.

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is about the US college football team that performs a haka before each game.

From the Herald story:

The Jefferson Democrats have seven Tongan players on their team who have taught the haka to the rest of the squad, the cheerleaders, and even some admiring younger pupils.

“It feels good that people want to do what we do for a change,” Tongan linebacker Mike Moala, one of the leaders of the haka told the Oregonian newspaper. “It makes us feel kind of famous”.

But that’s not the best bit. Because the officials are, well, officious, they aren’t really allowed to do it on the halfway line (they’re supposed to do it from the sideline. As if!) so every game starts with a penalty against them.

That’s right, and they do it anyway.

Jefferson coach Anthony Stoudamire allowed his players to vote on whether to keep doing the haka to rival teams, even though it would cost them a penalty.

Inevitably the players voted to maintain the tradition and defy the authorities, and starting every game with a 15-yard penalty has taken nothing away from their abilities as a team.

They performed the haka and took the penalty before last week’s game with Klamath Union, and promptly marched into the third round of the play-offs.

Wonder what those guys are up to in four years’ time…