Sir Edmund Hillary

Kiwi Heroes - Sir Edmund Hillary

The Kiwi Heroes Social Studies unit asks young men to identify and research a New Zealander whose actions have made a positive difference for others and to link these to our school values - Tū Māia | Courage – Ngākau Mahaki | Humility – Te mahi tahi | Industry – Tū Rangatira | Integrity – Tū Whakahī | Pride – Tū Whakaaute | Respect.

Sir Edmund Hillary

Background and hero story

Sir Edmund Hillary was born on the 20th of July 1919 in Auckland Hospital. He began his determination for mountaineering in his days at secondary school and started his first expedition up Mt Oliver in 1938 and was successful. When WW2 broke out, Hillary registered as a conscientious objector. However, his drive for adventure got the better of him and he served in the Royal NZ Airforce as a navigator. He suffered severe burns in the Solomon Islands in a tragic boating accident. After his time serving, he lived in Nepal and Asia following his quests in mountaineering. In 1958 he began his quest up the mighty Mt Everest with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, a very experienced mountain climber. It took roughly 2 weeks to climb and descend Mount Everest, making the pair the first-ever humans to climb to the highest summit of the world. Sir Ed’s famous quote after climbing to the summit was “we knocked the bastard off”. After his big expedition, he set off on other adventures. After his climb, his fame began the talk of the world. He received money and donations and being the kind man he was, he created schools and hospitals for the poor Nepalese citizens and soon after served as New Zealand's High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh and concurrently as Ambassador to Nepal. He passed away peacefully on the 11th of January 2008. 

Sir Edmund Hillary

School Values

Sir Edmund Hillary had many values he lived by to make him the man he was. He was determined to climb further and further up and not stop through life-or-death situations. He also showed Courage and bravery with himself and his companions throughout the climb. Another key value he showed was Respect. He gave the mountain respect and prepared accordingly. He also showed respect to the poor who lived in that country by helping their lives in one way or another. He was also very Industrious and believed in hard work. He would spend hours and hours physically training for his exhibitions. These key values lead up to why Sir Edmund Hillary is a hero and a great all-round person.


Sir Edmund Hillary’s great achievement of conquering Everest led him on a journey to becoming a great philanthropist. After defeating the mountain, Hillary led a number of expeditions including treks to the North and South Poles, but as time passed, he grew more troubled by the welfare of the impoverished Nepalese people. In the 1960s he returned to Nepal and established the Himalayan Trust which built hospitals, clinics, bridges, airfields (for tourism) and seven schools. The trust also restored a number of Buddhist Ministries. Sir Ed used his great prestige and worldwide fame to persuade the New Zealand Government to provide the necessary funds. He also raised money from personal contributors from around the globe. These improvements had a significant effect on the lives of the Nepalese people. Sir Edmund Hillary was named by Time Magazine as one of the top hundred most influential people of the 20th century. Following his death in 2008 the Himalayan Trust continues to raise funds for the welfare of the Himalayan people. When questioned on his posterity, Sir Ed commented “I don’t know if I particularly want to be remembered for anything. I have enjoyed great satisfaction from my climb of Everest and my trips to the Poles but there’s no doubt either, that my most worthwhile things have been the building of schools and medical clinics.” It is interesting that in his eyes, his numerous successes as a mountaineer comes second to his philanthropy work in what he believes to be his biggest achievement.