Hillary House was the original whānau house and was opened in November 1980 by the Governor General, Sir David Beattie. The house was named after Sir Edmund Hillary and the foundation House Leader was Paul Kirschberg. Since then the House Leaders have been Noel Bungay and Des Dunlop. On October 13 1991 Hillary House was burnt down and was re-opened on 29 October 1992. Ms Robbie was the House Leader from 2002 to April of 2008. Mrs Dorey relieved for her for three terms in 2007 whilst she was on maternity leave. Ms Hon started her journey as House Leader in July 2008.
Sir Edmund Hillary has been a very important role model in the shaping of the value systems of Hillary House. Until 2005 he made an annual visit to Hillary and this served as a constant reminder of his passion for life, for his compassion towards others and his search for excellence.
Each year the students of Hillary House raise money in order to make an annual contribution towards the Himalayan Trust. Hillary House is one of the major benefactors in New Zealand. The Trust is now administered by the people of the Himalayas continuing the good work which was begun by Sir Edmund nearly 50 years ago.
The importance of the connection with Sir Edmund Hillary and the Himalayan Trust is evident in the house. There is a wealth of memorabilia from past trips of staff and students to the Himalayas, photo documentation of the visits that Sir Edmund has made to Hillary House, as well as the gifts that have been given to the house.
A celebration of our connection with Nepal includes the stained glass windows. These were designed and crafted by Fred Graham (Former HOD Art) and they were dedicated by Sir Edmund Hillary on the re-opening of the Whānau in 1992. One depicts the cold of the Himalayas and the achievements of Sir Edmund Hillary, the other the rising of Hillary from the fire of 1991.
The statue of Sir Edmund Hillary in the garden is a constant reminder to the students of the powerful nature of their namesake. The pages are turned regularly on the “Sagarmatha” book of photographs and are a reminder to the students of the Himalayas and their people. Flags, banners, paintings and other memorabilia line the walls and ceilings of the house.
A sense of keeping the history of the house has been important to the developing a real sense of pride and tradition in Hillary House. Mr Becroft has put a great deal of time into creating an extended ‘wall of fame’ in the house. We have had some of these famous Hillarians back into speak to us. Kevin Biggar has spoken of the race across the Atlantic and of his trek on foot to the South Pole. This year we have celebrated the latest of Kirsten Hillier’s achievements, the winning of the 2007 Halberg Award for Coach of the Year, and invited her back to an assembly.
Sadly, 2008 began with news that on 11 January Sir Edmund Hillary died. Hillary House sent a special tribute to Lady June Hillary and held a special assembly on 12 March to honour the life of this remarkable person. Sir Edmund’s final wish was that support for the Himalayan Trust be continued into the future. The staff and students of Hillary House will undoubtedly honour his wishes well into the future, always working hard to raise money for the people of the Himalayas.
We ask everyone to respect the physical environs of Hillary House, to be respectful of others and to participate fully in the life of the house.