Sir Edmund Hillary's onscreen legacy befits his iconic status. Over the years, many programmes and documentaries have celebrated his achievements, from his triumphs of endurance and exploration, to his tireless humanitarian work, and a lifetime of adventure.
These excerpts from Tom Scott's award-winning series Hillary - A View from the Top revisit Sir Ed's early years. Ed reflects on his youth as a gangly Auckland Grammar student, the enjoyment of beekeeping, and a school trip to Mt. Ruapehu that sparked a "fiery enthusiasm" for alpine adventure.
Following his legendary 1953 conquest of Mt. Everest, Sir Ed returned home to a well earned hero's welcome. Hillary Returns shows his landing in Auckland, alighting from a flying boat to the roars of a proud Kiwi public. Next, it's on to his hometown, Papakura, for a quick interview by his brother Rex. Sir Ed muses about his recent ascent, and the suitability of the Southern Alps as preparation for 'knocking the bastard off.'
Watch Hillary Returns here:
Antarctic Adventure documents Sir Ed's involvement in helping to establish New Zealand's Scott Base, leading members of the Commonwealth Polar Expedition in constructing buildings, and making preparations to support an expedition by a British team led by Doctor Vivian Fuchs. After wintering over, Hillary would, in January 1958, controversially reach the South Pole before Fuchs - only the third party after Scott and Amundsen to do so overland.
Watch Antarctic Adventure here:
Made in 1973, Off the Beaten Track shows a lighter side to Sir Ed, playing tour guide in rural New Zealand. Visiting the far north he admires the Aupōuri people's connection with the land, before going bush, fishing and diving for scallops off Stewart Island. In the Alps, he tackles a grand traverse of Mount Cook with Harry Ayres and other mates. Not bad for a self-described "middle-aged family man who has tried to keep himself reasonably fit."
Directed by Roger Donaldson, 70s series The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary ramps up the pace, following Sir Ed and an A-Team of fellow crusaders on missions into the wild. In this episode, Sir Ed leads an operation to take on Fiordland's unclimbed Kaipo Wall, tackling white water rapids and running rings around Bear Grylls in the bushcraft department, before heading to the top.
Watch The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary here:
One of three special Edmund Hillary in Nepal segments that screened on Holmes in 1991, this piece looks into some of the schools and hospitals Hillary helped establish in Himalayan villages. Sir Ed and Lady June Hillary join the 30th anniversary celebrations of Khumjung School, one of the earliest projects instigated by the Himalayan Trust. Reporter Mark Sainsbury visits the school shed first built by Edmund and Rex Hillary in 1961, and Sir Ed talks about his satisfaction in contributing to local communities.
You can see more great footage here, in NZ On Screen's Sir Edmund Hillary Collection.