Sir Edmund Hillary is dead and somehow we Kiwis all feel the loss. I'm not sure how it comes about that someone I've never met who came to fame climbing mountains embedded himself into the national psyche like this. But I think it is because of this:
Sir Ed was a Good Bloke. He almost set the standard for it.
He attacked whatever he set to do with cheerful perseverance.
Among a young country of people who have always had trouble identifying who we are, he set for us the standard of what it means to be Kiwi - whatever limits are set upon us by our size, our insignificance and our circumstances are meaningless. Kiwis must "knock the bastard off" in whatever our sphere of life, cheerfully and with a smile, without losing our humanity or understanding of what is truly important. Kiwis must respect the world we live in, and the people who inhabit it with us.
Sir Ed was the conscience of New Zealand. If Sir Ed took the trouble to say something, we all listened. A few years ago when Mark Inglis climbed Everest, the first double amputee to do so, but passed by a dying climber without stopping to keep him company in his last hours, all Sir Ed had to say was that in his time that would never have been done - and no more excuses would do.
Sir Ed was a man of action. The schools and hospitals he set up in Nepal speak for themselves.
Above all, Sir Ed impressed us with his love of life, his strength of character that was obvious right up until his death, and his refusal to let anything hold him back. His death will leave a real hole in our country's life.
Moving Day: Blog in Review
7 months ago