Sir Ed's haven on the market

By Estelle Sarney

Sir Edmund Hillary's home of more than 50 years is for sale, and will be opened to the public for the first time at a charity open home tomorrow.

Sir Edmund's daughter Sarah, who is managing the sale with her brother Peter, said the family were sad about letting go of the house "but we're resigned to it".

"There are so many beneficiaries of Ed's will that it's just something that has to happen," said Sarah. "We're very grateful we have so many wonderful memories from our time here."

Sarah shares some of those memories in a story about the house and its history in this weekend's Heraldhomes (Section H). Among them is that her maternal grandparents, Jim and Phyllis Rose, subdivided part of their section so their daughter Louise and Sir Ed could build a house next door, at 278A Remuera Rd. That was in 1956, and Sir Ed called the property home until his death 52 years later.

In that time it was the house in which he and Lady Louise raised their children, a base from which they planned their expeditions and Nepalese charity work, a refuge after Louise and youngest daughter Belinda were killed in a plane crash in 1975, a place where Sir Ed began a new phase of his life with second wife Lady June, and a much-loved grandfather's house.

Lady June has now settled into another home nearby, and the Hillary house has been emptied in readiness for a new owner.

The house is humble compared to some of its grand neighbours on the Remuera ridge, but it still has a mid-century modernist style imbued by the architect firm Gummer & Ford, which earlier last century designed some of Auckland's best-known buildings, including the Winter Gardens in the Domain and the Dilworth Trust Building in Customs St East.

A room off the far end of the living area was Sir Ed's office, his favourite room that he filled with papers, photos and mementoes of his adventures and aid work.

In the last few years of his life he spent a lot of time in the master bedroom upstairs, where, between reading adventure and science fiction novels, he could look at the view he loved. Through the branches of a Himalayan pine he planted years before, he could see across the Waitemata Harbour to Rangitoto. It was over the harbour that he asked for his ashes to be scattered.

Sarah and her family are beginning the marketing campaign with a charity open home tomorrow from 10.30am to 12.30pm. They ask visitors to donate a gold coin to the charity Sir Ed founded, the Himalayan Trust.

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