Tuesday, 12 February 2008
Madam Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.
Hon Herbert John Walker CMG
Madam SPEAKER: I regret to inform the House of the death on 4 January 2008 of the Hon Herbert John (Bert) Walker CMG, who represented the electorate of St Albans from 1960 to 1969 and that of Papanui from 1969 to 1978. He was Minister of Tourism and of Broadcasting and Minister in charge of Publicity from 1969 to 1972, Postmaster-General in 1972, and from 1975 to 1978, Minister of Social Welfare and Minister in charge of the Government Life Insurance Office, of the State Insurance Office, and of the Earthquake and War Damage Commission. I desire, on behalf of this House, to express our sense of the loss we have sustained and our sympathy with the relatives of the late former member. I now ask members to stand with me and observe a period of silence as a mark of respect for his memory.
- Honourable members stood as a mark of respect.
Sir George Robert
Madam SPEAKER: I regret to inform the House of the death on 10 January 2008 of Sir George Robert
Laking KCMG, who after a distinguished career as a public servant and diplomat was appointed an Ombudsman, and so an Officer of Parliament, in 1975 and was Chief Ombudsman from 1977 to 1984. I desire, on behalf of this House, to express our sense of the loss we have sustained and our sympathy with the relatives of the late former Chief Ombudsman. I now ask members to stand with me and observe a period of silence as a mark of respect for his memory.
- Honourable members stood as a mark of respect.
Sir Edmund Percival Hillary KG, ONZ, KBE
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister)
: I move,
That this House note with deep regret the death on 11 January 2008 of Sir Edmund Hillary, KG, ONZ, KBE, and join with all New Zealanders in expressing a sense of loss at the passing of an extraordinary New Zealander; note his lifetime of achievements, including reaching the summit of Mt Everest with
TenzingNorgay on 29 May 1953, his participation in the trans-Antarctic expedition of 1958, his service as New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India from 1984 to 1989, his role in founding Volunteer Service Abroad in New Zealand, and his tireless and dedicated efforts to assist the Sherpa people of Nepal through building schools, hospitals, and other essential infrastructure; and convey to Sir Edmund’s family its profound sympathy in their bereavement.
Three weeks ago a State funeral was held for Sir Edmund Hillary, and our thoughts this past month have been for Lady Hillary and Sir Ed’s children, grandchildren, and wider family, who have lost a much-loved family member.
Sir Ed’s life was one that deeply touched our small nation. He was, quite simply, the best-known New Zealander in the world, and was held in universal respect in our country. His fame spread with his conquest of Everest, and, later, with that land crossing to the South Pole—the first since
Amundsen and Scott almost half a century before. There were many other adventures, too, to unexplored places and extreme climates. Sir Ed’s living legacy will be the work he began in the 1960s for the Sherpa people of Nepal. He never turned his back on Nepal; he kept on giving back to the
communities that had helped him. This, too, marks him out as a great New Zealander. At home, Sir Ed was always a willing patron and supporter of good causes, particularly for young people and the environment. Sir Edmund Hillary will be remembered as a towering figure who symbolised the values we most admire in our fellow New Zealanders. May he rest in peace.
JOHN KEY (Leader of the Opposition)
: On behalf of the National Party I wish to join with the Government in marking the passing of Sir Edmund Hillary, a great New Zealander. He was a legend, a humanitarian, and an adventurer. An extraordinary ordinary guy, he reached across all sections and age groups in our society. He was one of us. He was proud to be a New Zealander, and we were proud to call him one of us. As the
Dominion Post so accurately put it in its editorial, he was the New Zealander others wished they could be. Our thoughts go to Lady Hillary and Sir Edmund’s family at this time.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First)
: On a fateful day near the end of May 1953—as the Prime Minister has set out—Edmund Hillary began with the Sherpa companion,
TenzingNorgay, to tackle a few hundred metres of the most terrible terrain on Earth at the top of Mount Everest. No one had ever done it before. Fifteen expeditions had already failed, for it is a very hostile place—there is little oxygen and it is so hard to breathe and move. However, once Edmund Hillary set his mind on climbing Mount Everest nothing got in his way.
The North Pole had been reached in 1909, the South Pole in 1911, but Everest, often described as the third pole, had defied all attempts. Reaching the summit seemed beyond the reach of mere mortals. At 11.30 on 29 May 1953 Edmund Hillary and
TenzingNorgay made it, and by the time Edmund Hillary came down he was one of the most famous men in the world. As has been said, he was knighted by the Queen but he always remained a humble man who shrugged off fame and always paid tribute to his Sherpa companion. He always felt a great debt to the people of Nepal.
Other adventures followed, including more climbs, a trek across the Antarctic on a snow tractor, and a search to see whether a hairy beast with big feet called a yeti or the Abominable Snowman was in fact real. He spent most of his life after his ascent of Mount Everest giving back to the native people who lived near the mountain in Nepal. After all, climbers depend on the Sherpas—they carry gear, lead the way, and their lives are hard and many of them are very, very poor. He travelled many times to Nepal to visit his Sherpa friends and their families, and through the years he helped them to build health clinics, hospitals, bridges, and schools. When he died last month he was known by most people as the first man to climb to the top of Mount Everest. But he thought his most important work came afterward, helping the mountain people of Nepal.
Edmund Hillary was always the most respected New Zealander. He represented a special breed of Kiwi—tough, self-reliant, caring, and with a can-do attitude. When they made Sir Edmund Hillary they broke the mould. He was a man for his time, and his time came on that fateful day in May 1953. He did not use it for self-aggrandisement; he used it to help others, and his like will not be seen again.
JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green)
: It is an honour to speak on behalf of the Greens in acknowledging the passing of a truly great New Zealander. Sir Edmund exemplified all the things we like to think of as being essentially Kiwi. Even if many of those qualities we are now starting to lose, we wish we were not doing so, and we would all, I think, like to recover them and to be more like him.
The first of the qualities is courage—the courage to set out on what seems to be a hopeless task and, against enormous odds, to carry it through. I am not referring there just to Mount Everest, either. That courage, of course, incorporates persistence and the ability to keep going, even when all the odds are against one. The second one is
compassion—being deeply affected by the state of the people in the country that was helping him to climb the mountain, and dedicating the rest of his life to their well-being. With that compassion came enormous resourcefulness, which is another Kiwi quality. When the monasteries were sliding down the hillsides and Sir Edmund was asked to help to prop them up, he sent back to New Zealand and got some wonderful engineering plans that involved many, many tonnes of concrete and steel. He pointed out that all of those materials had to be carried in on the backs of Sherpas for 3 days, and came up instead with a No. 8 fencing wire alternative: a mesh made of No. 8 fencing wire—what could be more Kiwi—that actually succeeded in holding those monasteries up. The third quality is unpretentiousness and humility. Sir Edmund was accessible throughout his life to other New Zealanders who wanted to talk to him. The fourth was his rugged sense of humour. Scaling the summit of Mount Everest was just a precursor in his life to challenging the much more difficult mountains of underprivilege and poverty in Nepal.
Winston Peters used the line I was planning to use myself. We will not see his like again.
Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Māori Party)
:Tēnā koe, Madam Speaker. Kai te
pīrangi au ki te poroporoaki i
tēnei rangatira i roto i te reo o
mātua. I roto i
Māorimehemea ka tangi atu ki
karangahiangā mate katoa
kuapā ki a
kuapā ki a koutou e noho nei i roto i te Whare i
mauria mai kia
arā, i a
Tā Edmund Hillary, kia
Nā reira, kai te rangatira haere.
āu mahi i
runga i a koe e te
Ingarangi, e te
Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa,
otirā, e te iwi
whānui o Aotearoa nei.
Nā reira, haere koe me
tērā rangatira o
mātou a Hone
Tūwhare, kia tae katoa mai koutou i roto i te rangatiratanga, te huarahi
kuawhārikitia e te mana o te
ngā rangatira nei,
ngārōpū nei e
Nā reira, haere, haere.
[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[Greetings to you, Madam Speaker. I would like to farewell this leader in the language of my ancestors. In accordance with
Māori traditions, when the loss of one individual is mourned, all deaths of the day that affect us are summoned. So the deaths affecting you seated in the Chamber today, bring them together to be farewelled with Sir Edmund Hillary. Therefore, to you the leader, depart. What you have done on this side of the veil has been completed well. Honours have been bestowed upon you by the Queen of England, the Government of New Zealand, and indeed by the public at large of this country. Journey on, with that other leader of ours, Hone
Tūwhare, so that you and all those who passed away today in your greatness can travel the pathway set down by the many and mighty who have gone before you. Party leaders have acknowledged your greatness, so farewell, farewell. Greetings to you, members of the House.]
Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future)
: On behalf of United Future I extend our sympathy to Lady Hillary and her family on the loss of Sir Edmund Hillary—explorer, diplomat, humanitarian, raconteur, and New Zealander. Since Sir Edmund’s death, a great deal has been said and written about his achievements. Most of it has been complimentary and consoling, some of it has been maudlin, and the occasional item has been crass—and I have no wish to add to that this afternoon.
I want to make just two brief observations. Given the clobbering machine that is New Zealand, I suspect that the conquest of Everest, awesome as it was, unprecedented as it was, and courageous as it was, would not have been enough to sustain Sir Edmund in our national consciousness as an icon for over half a century without the many other considerable qualities and attributes he gave to our country and to our world. I think that for many New Zealanders, Sir Edmund was a distant figure—distant in the sense of
time; the conquest of Everest occurred before most New Zealanders were born. But the thing they admired about him was his “Kiwiness”, his “ordinary
blokeishness”, and the fact that he was someone who was, as I think the Prime Minister referred to earlier, the embodiment of what we all thought being a New Zealander was. So when he died, a little bit of all of us as a nation died. That sense of what being a New Zealander was all about passed with him. I suspect that as time passes on, we as a nation will want to reflect more and more on that point.
The final observation I want to make is this. It must be hard for a family in such circumstances to come to grips with their loss of such a public figure. Grief is a very personal thing, and people need to be able to grieve often, in privacy, and away from the pressure of daily life. All the rest of us in that situation want to be part of the reconciliation and recovery process. I simply say to the family that we are with them at this sad time. We hope they draw strength, consolation, and comfort from the support right around this country. But we know that they will have their own private moments that they will wish to share with each other and reflect upon without our intrusion, and we as a nation respect that, because this was a truly great New Zealander.
RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT)
: On behalf of the ACT party, I say that Sir Edmund Hillary made us all proud to be New Zealanders, and I believe he brought out the best in each and every one of us. To push on with
TenzingNorgay higher than anyone had ever gone before must have take true guts and courage. Then to achieve that fame and to be able to, I guess, do anything with it, but to use that fame to help the Sherpa people—in their words “to give them eyes to see”—by building schools, hospitals, and bridges was real humanity. Throughout all of Sir Edmund Hillary’s great achievements, he always remained to us as one of us, and that must have taken true humility.
So Sir Edmund Hillary for us does embody what it is to be a great Kiwi, and he reminds us of what it is to achieve each of our challenges, our “Everests”, and also to use, in our ways, the opportunities we each have to make the world a better place. All of us could reflect on this great man, on his passing, and on what he meant to each of us in our lives.
I would also like to join with my colleagues in thanking the family of Lady Hillary and Sir Edmund Hillary for, in what was a very personal loss for them, allowing each and every one of us who felt a loss too, to join with them in that feeling and to bring our great nation together for this great man.
Hon JIM ANDERTON (Leader—Progressive)
: Sir Edmund Hillary was, essentially, a national hero, and he is rightly claimed as an inspiration by all New Zealanders. I found inspiration in the commitment he made to a fairer, more caring New Zealand. I found inspiration, too, in both his public and political commitment to those ideals. He had a fierce and proud commitment to fairness and justice. He might have been the first person to climb Mount Everest, but his life was more about working cooperatively than it ever was about competition. Sir Ed Hillary showed us the value of decency and unity in our common purpose. He showed us the value of working tirelessly and selflessly for all of our brothers and sisters on planet Earth. His values were the highest mountain he ever stood on. He showed us the value of taking on any challenge, of meeting it with grit and determination, and of pulling together to make the most of our talents. Sir Ed epitomised the tolerant society. He was the embodiment of a strong and caring New Zealand. He was an inspiration for the kind of New Zealand that we should all aspire to create. Our deepest sympathies today go to Lady Hillary and to the Hillary family, whose loss is, of course, much greater than ours.
- Honourable members stood as a mark of respect.
Hon TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader—Māori Party)
: I move,
That this House express its deep sadness at the recent death of the distinguished poet, playwright, and author Hone
Tūwhare—who was named the Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate in 1999, and an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Artist in 2003, and was a recipient of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement in 2003—and in doing so express its sincere condolences to
Ngāpuhi, and in particular to
Pōtoto, and Te Uri o Hau who are feeling a profound sense of loss and sorrow at this time.