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Sir Edmund Hillary dies - Straits Times


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Straits Times - Jan 12, 2008

 

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TOP OF THE WORLD: Sir Edmund (left) and Tenzing Norgay after they had come down from the Everest summit in 1953.c.gif

 

First man to scale Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, dies World leaders pay tribute to legendary Kiwi adventurer and philanthropist

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WELLINGTON - SIR Edmund Hillary, the modest New Zealand beekeeper who won international fame as one of the world's great adventurers after becoming the first person to climb Mount Everest, died yesterday at age 88.

 

Sir Edmund had a heart attack after a spell of bad health, Auckland Hospital said.

 

The lanky, plain-speaking Kiwi made history on May 29, 1953, when he and Nepalese guide Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made it to the top of the world's tallest mountain, a feat that had defied mountaineers for decades.

 

On the way back down, Sir Edmund lifted his mask and uttered what would become one of the most famous phrases in the annals of climbing: 'Well, we knocked the b****** off.'

 

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark described the legendary adventurer and philanthropist, who also led the first expedition to reach the South Pole by vehicle just four years after conquering Everest, a 'quintessential Kiwi' and 'the best-known New Zealander ever to have lived'.

 

'He was an heroic figure who not only 'knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility and generosity,' she said.

 

A hero to millions for his derring-do, dry wit and dedication to others - he spent much of his life working to help the people of Nepal. He was the only living New Zealander ever to appear on his country's currency and was always modest about his achievement.

 

It was many years before Tenzing Norgay revealed that Sir Edmund had actually been first to reach the peak. They said at the time that they had reached the top together.

 

By the time Sir Edmund attempted his ascent of Everest, as part of an expedition led by British climber Sir John Hunt, seven previous expeditions to the top of the mountain had failed.

 

News of Sir Edmund and Tenzing Norgay's successful trek to the top of the 8,848m peak was announced on the day of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation on June 2, 1953.

 

She awarded the New Zealander a knighthood, which he greeted with characteristic self-effacement. 'I could see myself...in my tattered overalls and the seat out of my pants,' he said. 'And I thought, 'That's gone forever. I'll have to buy a new pair of overalls now'.'

 

His death has prompted an outpouring of sympathy from around the world as friends and colleagues remembered him as a dogged adventurer with a generous spirit.

 

Australia's acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Sir Edmund's name would forever 'be synonymous with adventure, with achievement, with dreaming and then making those dreams come true'.

 

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose nation sponsored the 1953 expedition, said he 'was a truly great hero who captured the imagination of the world'.

 

Mr Katsusuke Yanagisawa, who last year became the world's oldest person to climb Mount Everest at 71 years old, said: 'The word 'respect' is not enough to express the feeling I have for him.'

 

In Nepal, where Sir Edmund had been granted honorary citizenship, the people mourned him and held prayer ceremonies.

 

He had been unwell for sometime but friends in New Zealand said his death still came as a shock.

 

In New Zealand, a state funeral is being planned, while flags were lowered to half mast nationwide. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Face on a banknote a break with convention

The Dominion Post | Saturday, 12 January 2008

 

Sir Edmund Hillary broke the rules when his face appeared on our $5 note.

 

 

 

Until then it had been the accepted international convention that only the faces of heads of state and dead people could appear on banknotes.

 

But in 1991, then Reserve Bank governor Don Brash decided Sir Ed was the right person to be commemorated on the $5 note.

 

At the time, the Reserve Bank was engaged in a major redesign of New Zealand's banknotes and had undertaken wide public consultation.

 

Dr Brash said his original plan had been to keep the Queen on one of the notes, then have one dead male Pakeha (scientist Ernest Rutherford), one dead female Pakeha (women's suffrage campaigner Kate Sheppard) and one dead Maori (MP and Cabinet minister Apirana Ngata) and one dead sportsperson sharing the five notes.

 

Finding a suitable candidatefor the last was a problem.

 

"It was difficult to find someone of sufficient stature. When I had guests at the dinner table I would ask them. The first person they suggested was Ed Hillary."

 

He decided to break with convention and asked Sir Ed directly.

 

"He was out of the country at the time - I think he was in Germany. But Lady Hillary put me in touch with him. To my great delight he agreed."

 

Dr Brash said Sir Ed was well deserving of the honour. "He was an extraordinary man."

 

Reserve Bank spokesman Mike Hannah said Sir Ed had insisted the backdrop to his portrait should show Aoraki/Mt Cook and not Mt Everest. The image also included a Ferguson tractor.

 

There are 19 million $5 notes in circulation.

 

Banknotes personally signed by Sir Ed are now expected to catch the attention of collectors.

 

A thousand of the banknotes were provided by the Reserve Bank for the Sir Edmund Hillary Project. About 800 notes are left, available for about $700 each.

 

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4352295a11.html

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This is the text of an article published by NZ Herald Saturday 12th January 2008.

 

Sir Edmund was often asked to autograph the $5 note and he happily agreed.

 

The appearance of Sir Edmund Hillary on New Zealand's $5 banknote broke a longstanding international convention - but it was a decision former Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash never came to regret.

 

Sir Ed was put on the note in the early 1990s, after a process which began with the public putting forward suggestions of who they thought should appear on the country's revamped currency.

 

Sir Ed was a strong suggestion, but he was quickly dismissed by the ultimate decision-maker, Dr Brash, because he was still alive.

 

Internationally, it was rare to put a living person who was not a head of state on a banknote, because of a fear that the person could go on to embarrassingly blot their copybook.

 

Dr Brash came up with a plan to put the Queen on the most-used note, the $20.

 

He had ideas for all of the other notes except the $5, which he decided to dedicate to a dead sportsperson.

 

But after examining options, Dr Brash eventually became perplexed - none seemed to him to fit correctly with the faces on the other notes, or just didn't seem to be of enough stature.

 

Two things influenced his decision to go with Sir Ed. "One was what I call my dinner party test," Dr Brash recalled yesterday.

 

"At dinner parties I'd say to people, 'Who do you think should be on our bank notes?' " he said.

 

"And before I could explain to people that the person had to be dead, most people would say, 'Well of course Hillary has to be on one of them'."

 

The second influence came during a visit to Singapore, when he saw a TV ad featuring Sir Ed walking through the grounds of a hotel, without a voiceover or a caption.

 

Dr Brash turned to his brother-in-law and said he knew that New Zealanders would recognise Sir Ed, but Singaporeans?

 

His brother-in-law said, "We all know who he is", and Dr Brash realised Sir Ed was the best-known New Zealander outside the country.

 

"I decided, to hell with the convention, I would put Ed Hillary on the note," he said.

 

With the decision made, an approach had to be made to Sir Ed to make sure he was happy with the idea.

 

Dr Brash tried to phone the mountaineer at home but learned through Lady June that Sir Ed was in Europe.

 

"I rang him there. Despite everyone telling me he would reject the issue out of hand, he said, 'Thank you very much, I'm very flattered and I'd be happy to be on the note'."

 

Sir Ed then had some input into the design, opting to put Mt Cook on it and a Massey Ferguson tractor, which illustrated his historic drive overland to the South Pole.

 

Dr Brash said the appearance on the note was a tribute not only to Sir Ed's mountaineering and exploring achievements, but his diplomatic and humanitarian efforts too.

 

The Reserve Bank's current governor, Alan Bollard, paid tribute to Sir Ed yesterday and a wreath was laid outside the bank's museum window.

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Gees - now that is a collectible one cannot find many of usually, a living person signing the note their image appears on. And one that did never have any such occasion to blot his image afterward, but only continue his memorable humanitarian efforts in Nepal. Good show Sir Edmund Hillary and Reserve Bank of NZ :ninja:

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