Things I like about New Zealand

November 25, 2007

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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2 Responses to “Things I like about New Zealand”

  1. Mysterious Dave Mathers Says:

    The man could scale Everest with a Tenzing of course, and cross Antarctica on a tractor, but there is an area where he wasn’t that good.

    The story goes – Sir Ed had been courting (or in the vernacular of the period “trotting”, or so my parents told me.) his future wife for a while. But possibly tired of waiting, his future Mother-in-law bailed him up. She asked what Sir Ed was planning, at which point he was a bit sheepish: she then asked if he was planning to propose. Sir Ed admitted he would have proposed, but he thought that his future wife might say no, so he hadn’t. At this point, Sir Ed’s future Mother-in-law, being a practical woman, told Sir Ed she propose for him.

    Which is what happened, and Sir Ed has been happily married ever since. At least that’s the story I heard.

    So not that good with girls, but knows when he is on to a good thing. So very much the classic Kiwi bloke.

  2. audent Says:

    That says it all really.

    And pohutukawa trees. There’s something about a tree that hangs out at the beach desperately… trying… to.. reach.. the.. water… It cracks me up. Also they’re gorgeous and when they start to bloom it’s time to go on holiday. Nice.


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