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Sarah Hillary links with SEHC Art project
Students at Auckland Art Galley

An exciting opportunity for both the students of Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate (SEHC) and Hillary House has been an art project in collaboration with the Auckland Art Gallery. Students have visited the gallery and worked with Sarah Hillary to create small artworks on tiles which came from their original home. At the time the house was moved from Remuera, it was impossible to retain the parquet tiles. So, the tiles were lifted and stored with a view to later re-using them for various projects.


As part of the Auckland Art Gallery’s Learning and Outreach schools programmes, 18 SEHC students were selected, six each from the Junior, Middle and Senior schools, to visit the gallery with their Art teachers. We acknowledge the support of Iokapeta Magele-Suamasi, Learning and Outreach Manager at the Gallery, our trustee and previous chair, Gail Thomson, along with the SEHC teachers who worked with their students on this project.


Students created artworks that were visual representations of their identity and cultural icons. “It was important to have visual representations of Sir Ed’s legacy, interwoven with imagery that was relevant to our students,” says Mose Eteuati, HOD Art at the Collegiate.

A number of the artworks have been created and donated by the students as a fundraiser for Hillary House and are on display. They will be sold at our open home as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival, on Sunday 20 October from 10am to 3pm, when visitors can also view the exhibition Sir Ed’s Antarctica.

September 2019

It’s like visiting Scott Base after 60 years
Bob Pinker

Bob Pinker’s recent visit to the House was significant.  It was an opportunity for him to reflect on his journeys with Sir Ed to Antarctica, and to share this with his daughter, Connie Miller, a Hillary House trustee.  


Between December 1956 and January 1965, Bob did a total of nine trips south, including the Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Ed in the Endeavour, sailing from New Zealand to the Ross Sea.  Bob had four trips to McMurdo Sound, where he was involved with building Scott Base and restoring the Scott and Shackleton Huts.  He was also involved in bringing back the second Endeavour from the USA, and did another four years aboard and five trips South.


Bob says the most interesting story about the building and opening of Scott Base is that they failed to take a flag pole, and Sir Ed subsequently pulled the old flag pole back to Scott Base behind a Fergusson tractor.  A famous photo showing him in the tractor with Endeavour in the background features in our planned Auckland Heritage Festival Sir Ed’s Antarctica exhibition on 20 October. 

Bob Pinker

The building of Scott Base was a military effort, Bob says.  “At that time, we all had patches promoting our duties, and they were on my shirt at Hillary's 100th birthday celebration.”   In the photo above he is wearing patches for Hillary's expedition south for TAE (Training and Education) on the HMNZS Endeavour.  His Scott Base patches relate to IGY (International Geophysical Year) work by the NZ Department of Scientific & Industrial Research teams.


When Bob visited the House for Sir Ed’s Centenary on 20 July, he found it quite different from visiting the original home decades before it was moved from Remuera.  Gone were the 1960’s fixtures and fittings, door trims and locks he remembered – all now upgraded to meet current building requirements.    


“The home now is a great reminder of the great man, but the 1960’s look and feeling has been upgraded to a nice modern home, a copy of Ed’s homestead - great feeling, but not the same.  It’s like visiting Scott Base 60 years after we built it.”

August 2019

Hillary House visits spark memories
Rae Maud, resident of Mayfair Retirement Village

Memories are rekindled when senior citizens visit us at Hillary House.  For Rae Maud, a resident of Mayfair Retirement Village who visited Hillary House in July, a special memory was of dancing with Sir Ed as the band played Climb Every Mountain.   Browse Rae’s story Visit to Hillary House jogs memory for 92 year old on our website.


Rae is one of many seniors who have visited Hillary House over recent months within the Hillary House Seniors Visiting Programme.  Visitors have enjoyed a presentation by Chair, Robin Houlker, on the journey of Hillary House, followed by a tour inside and morning tea in Sir Ed’s dining room.  Seniors are thrilled to be in the home where Sir Ed actually lived.

Rae Maud, resident of Mayfair Retirement Village

Marketer and Hillary Helper volunteer, Christine Foley (above left), has enjoyed making contact with retirement villages throughout the Auckland region promoting Hillary House.  “It’s been really satisfying to have such an enthusiastic response to our new Seniors Visiting Information Sheet.  Since June this has resulted in visits by groups from Highlands and Edgewater, Erin Park, Wattle Downs, Summerset at the Park, Mayfair, St Andrews and The Poynton retirement villages. 


Christine says the icing on the cake is when the village residents are brought to visit Hillary House and she is there to help with hosting.  “It’s a special experience for these residents and for me.  The House is abuzz with conversation and shared memories of Sir Ed’s achievements and how he has touched their lives.  Whether they passed him in the street or met him formally, they remember small details, which we love sharing with others.”

August 2019

Generations connect at Hillary House
Student Leaders from Wymondley Road School meet Wattle Downs Retirement Village residents

Inter-generational sharing and connection is a powerful tool for learning.  When young people and older generations share information, viewpoints and experiences everybody benefits.  We saw this powerful dynamic in action when Wymondley Road School and residents from Wattle Downs Retirement Village connected at Hillary House.  They told each other stories during the shared name game, and during the tour of the House the student leaders were able to hear how much the seniors looked up to Sir Ed when they were young.

An added benefit from this visit will be when the school choir visits the village later this year, reinforcing these relationships while also building a sense of leadership and contribution to community by these young student leaders.  This is a terrific outcome as a result of the facilitators, Trust Chair Robin Houlker and Hillary Helper Bernadette Phillips, deciding to bring the groups together on the same day.  Thanks to a small grant from the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board, student leader groups from ten schools in this area have been able to visit in past months.

Other benefits of our Student Leader Visiting Programme  include opportunity for students to reflect upon Sir Ed’s impact on their leadership development at school.


September 2019

The week that was ... Sir Ed’s centenary
Sir Edmund Hillary Centenary

In a week of celebrating Sir Edmund Hillary’s centenary, as well as our own event, our trustees focused on reaching out to others who promote his legacy. 


Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ incredible explorations were enjoyed by several of our trustees who attended the Himalayan Trust gala dinner in Auckland on Wednesday 17 July. MC Te Radar started with a wonderfully humorous ‘Antarctic’ health and safety briefing and throughout the evening made many marvellous links to Sir Ed’s dry, practical humour.

Our chair, Robin Houlker, was frantically busy all day Friday with various media, resulting in good uptake – see end of section browse media stories.   A fresh burst of energy was needed for our event at Hillary House on Saturday 20 July, which would have been Sir Ed’s 100th birthday.  At 8.30am on a chilly Saturday morning, a dump of snow outside the House went some way towards a sense of a mini Mt Everest. 

This was followed by an afternoon open home and Sir Ed’s Antarctica exhibition inside the House, with photographer Jane Ussher and Shaun Higgins, curator from Tamaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum.  Four new storyboards, just installed ready for the event, provided a marvellous pictorial record of Sir Ed’s Antarctica and will remain on display until our next open home on 20 October.  For one of our trustees, Connie Miller, the birthday had a special significance.  She was joined at Hillary House by her father, Bob Pinker, an Antarctica veteran.

The busy week continued as some of the trustees made their way to Wellington for the Sir Edmund Hillary Centenary Committee function at the Beehive.  We were fortunate to have with us Mike Roberts, MD of Karcher NZ, which sponsors Hillary House as a Place of National Significance within Karcher’s international cultural sponsorship programme.  Olivia Cody-Matheson, Duke of Edinburgh/Hillary gold level student, who contributed an hour a week to the House last year, was also with us.


Everyone enjoyed the presentations by the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, actor Sam Neill, who was a personal friend of Sir Ed, his children Sarah and Peter Hillary, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Waikato and the poet laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh.  All reflected on Sir Ed as New Zealand’s most iconic mountaineer, explorer and philanthropist.

July 2019

Chilean visitors feel Sir Ed’s presence
HH Chilean Visitors pic2.png

Chair of our Trust, Robin Houlker, along with senior management of SEHC welcome our visitors from Chile

Inspiration for a Chilean teacher of English to 'incorporate mountain lore into a learning programme next year and get students out tramping and understanding their environment', arose from a visit to Hillary House.

Twenty Chilean teachers of English visited the House in late November as part of an English language teaching professional development visit to Aotearoa New Zealand schools. They had the opportunity to learn about the journey of the House and our role in continuing Sir Ed’s vision.

Along with spending time in New Zealand classrooms, one of the highlights of their four week stay was the opportunity to visit the House and feel Sir Ed's presence. The teachers come from an area in Chile called Araucania which is quite mountainous in parts. They commented that it had been inspirational to be so close to Sir Ed and to witness how the Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate SEHC was connecting the House and his life with learning.

The teachers were in New Zealand as part of the English Opens Doors programme based at the University of Waikato's Pathways College in Hamilton. 

February 2019

Antarctica trip inspires Lana

Olympian Mike Dawson, Mele Fetu and Lana Kiddie-Vai.
Photo credit: Newshub

Lana Kiddie-Vai (right) says she is ‘super excited, but at the same scared and anxious’ about heading off to Antarctica next month.  The Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate (SEHC) Year 13 student, along with SEHC student Mele Fetu'u, will join ten other young leaders aged 18-30 years.  
Their selection has arisen from a new partnership between the Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate and Antarctic Heritage Trust.  They join the Inspiring Explorers’ Expedition to Antarctica in March, with Olympic kayaker Mike Dawson, who they met at the House late last year.


Lana’s preparations have included working hard to raise $500 as her contribution to the trip expanses, as well as team building exercises, kayaking lessons and sea kayaking around the inner Waitemata Harbour.


At first the media attention seemed daunting, but after interviews, including Niu FM radio and Newshub TV, Lana is handling the media with aplomb.

This opportunity to build their leadership skills reflects the vision in establishing Hillary House at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, to offer wider opportunities for young people to become explorers and give back to others.

The Hillary House Leadership Centre Trust extends our very best wishes for a most inspirational experience. 


Click for video

February 2019

Rising Foundation success stories
Jackson Wilcox (left) and Tremayne Moana

A number of The Rising Foundation students who have recently visited Hillary House have overcome numerous obstacles to get to where they are today.

Jackson Wilcox started the programme as a Year 8 student.  He always achieved really well academically and musically, participating in Tangata Pasifika Beats and the National Ukulele Squad, but still had a longing within himself for his character to grow.  A real turning point for Jackson has been self-discovery and confirmation of who he is as a person.  This has given him a stronger, more positive relationship with his family and his peers, leading him to become one of the Head Boys at Pukekohe High School. 

Saia Tai was another student visitor to Hillary House.  At the Rising Foundation meetings he rarely spoke and was afraid people would judge him about his way of thinking, as he was mature compared to other students.  Saia discovered a new passion for science, which he found hard to share at first.  Today he is the Cultural Prefect at Pukekohe High School.  His ongoing involvement in the programme has transformed him to become, ‘one of our most lively, spirited individuals to whom peers look for advice and guidance’, says Co-ordinator of the Rising Foundation programme, Feleti Lotulelei.  

‘How true is the statement…  it takes a village to raise a child’, continues Feleti. ‘Our students are fortunate to receive additional support and opportunities from great organisations, especially those that have arisen from Sir Edmund Hillary and his legacy.  Whether it is from Hillary House Leadership Centre Trust accommodating our Rising Foundation meetings and talking leadership with our students, our camps at the Hillary Outdoors Education Centre in Tongariro, or seeing one of our students, Mele Fetu’u, selected for the Inspiring Explorers trip to Argentina and Antarctica with the Antarctic Heritage Trust.’

Hillary House Leadership Centre Trust is proud of the achievements of these students, in partnerships that are motivated by Sir Edmund Hillary.

February 2019

The house that Ed built
Sir Ed with his son Peter, taken at the House in 1956Sir Ed with his son Peter, taken at the House in 1956

Our Trust was proud to offer the first opportunity for the public to visit Hillary House on Saturday 6 October as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival 2018. As the former home of Sir Edmund Hillary from 1956 until 2008, the House is now a place of heritage.

After six years of fundraising by our Trust it was moved from its original site in Remuera to Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara. It was opened as a Leadership Centre in May 2014.

With a Festival focus upon ‘our heritage-our people’, having Sir Ed’s daughter Sarah share her memories of growing up in the House added a special perspective for our 40 plus visitors. They also enjoyed a tour of the House, along with being the first to see an exhibition of storyboards reflecting the House in earlier times, family memories and some of Sir Ed’s expeditions. At more than a metre, these displays look wonderful throughout the House.

Our visitors came from a wide variety of backgrounds - climbing, heritage, local body, previous involvement with the Hillary family and people of all ages who were very interested to learn more about Sir Ed’s life.

We appreciated having several Hillary Helpers managing the event on the day, with assistance also received from members of Rotary Downtown.

November 2018

Karcher dream team

Building relationships with our corporate community is vital to spreading the word on Hillary House Leadership Centre.  A significant relationship was cemented in 2016, when Karcher New Zealand adopted Hillary House as a Place of National Significance within Karcher’s international cultural sponsorship programme.  Hillary House is an iconic building for New Zealand and a legacy for young people.


Twice a year Karcher employees volunteer from around New Zealand to spend the day cleaning every nook and cranny of Hillary House with their equipment and products.  Both the interior and exterior have a makeover which would have impressed Sir Ed!


By giving in this way, Karcher and their dream team are both enriching the relationship with Hillary House and supporting the sustainability of the building.   We love watching the Managing Director, Mike Roberts, mentoring and teaching team members during the cleaning – his commitment to them and to us is inspirational.

August 2018

Thanks to TPS, our roof is clean!
HH TPS Exterior Building Svs.png

Thanks to Stefan Joubert and his team at TPS Exterior Building Services Ltd we are delighted that Sir Ed’s house had a roof clean.  Due to the new Health and Safety Act, roof cleaning now requires a cherry picker and other safety measures.  This is important maintenance and we are reliant on our business partnerships.


The roof clean was arranged by Karcher New Zealand as part of its international cultural sponsorship of Hillary House Leadership Centre.  An added bonus for such willing workers is the chance to learn about what’s been going on at Hillary House, and to sit in Sir Ed’s kitchen for tea and biscuits.

May 2018

One Tree Hill College Rotary Interact
One Tree Hill College Rotary Interact Ji

Students of One Tree Hill College Rotary Interact Club visited Hillary House in March 2018 and they particularly enjoyed a presentation by one of Sir Ed’s old friends, Jim Espie.  Jim regaled the group with a delightful story that Sir Ed had shared with him about his first ever garden party at Buckingham Palace, dressed in tails and top hat.

In practising stylish movements with his cane, seems Sir Ed didn’t anticipate that the end of it might detach itself in flight to a nearby rose garden!  The students loved this humorous story of Sir Ed and were highly motivated by being in his surroundings, providing thoughtful feedback as they left.

April 2018

Ellerslie Probus sets a record
HH Ellerslie Probus.png

As part of our Visiting Programme we have so enjoyed welcoming senior members of the community to Hillary House. Their enthusiasm and interest in Sir Edmund Hillary is infectious and we just love their stories and memories.

A group from Ellerslie Probus visited in March 2018 following a presentation by the Chair, Robin Houlker, at a meeting in November 2017.  They created a new record – 40 excited people poured off the bus.  In an email to the Chair, organiser Val Jackson said, “thank you so much for our wonderful morning on Friday.  Everyone enjoyed your hospitality and your sharing of ‘The Story’.  Your passion was infectious and inspiring, and generated much interest.  We wish you all the best as you continue to develop the project.”

March 2018

Sir Ed motivates St Thomas’ School
HH St Thomas School visit 2016.jpg

In August 2016 one of our first student leader groups to visit Hillary House was from St Thomas’ School in Kohimarama. They were in awe of being in Sir Ed’s actual home and were excited to see the framed newspapers which told the story of how the ascent of Mount Everest coincided with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  Learning that this achievement was as notable as the coronation in gaining front page news was so interesting for these Year 6 students. 


At the time of the visit our Trust was trying to find the money to put blinds throughout Hillary House to preserve and protect this historical information.  The students were particularly concerned that materials be protected in Sir Ed’s study.  These students returned to school and raised money to help.  Some months later the Trust was delighted to accept a cheque for $400 as a contribution to the blinds.  We are so thankful for this effort and contribution to Sir Ed’s legacy. 


St Thomas’ School and our Trust celebrated in May 2017 when blinds were installed throughout the house thanks to a further generous donation from a private benefactor.

August 2016

Antarctic Trust ‘Expedition South’
HH SEHC Visit Peter Hillary.jpg

While overnighting at Hillary House in August 2016, Peter Hillary and his team of drivers showed Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate students the type of tractors used to get to the South Pole and the clothing worn in Antarctica. The Antarctic Heritage team were raising money to restore the hut that Sir Ed stayed in while in the South Pole. 


Taking care of the hut is an important piece of history, Peter said. “Dad often talked about his time in Antarctica and the trip to the South Pole … he saw it as one of his major achievements, saying it was an extreme challenge after Everest.  He spent a lot of time in that hut – it was where his office was and where his bunk bed was.  I know he wants it saved.”


Peter and his team completed ‘Expedition South’, a 2,012 kilometre trip by tractor from Piha Beach, Auckland to Mt Cook in the South Island, the same distance Sir Ed travelled to the South Pole in 1958. 

August 2016

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