Wrenched from its foundations and placed on the back of a truck, Sir Edmund Hillary's house was barely recognisable to his family and friends yesterday.

The building, which Sir Ed built and in which he planned many of his expeditions, was welcomed to its new home at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara with a morning powhiri.

"It's not looking its best," admitted Sir Ed's son, Peter Hillary.

"But by the time they've put the bottom structure on and reclad it and refitted it out, it's got a whole new life ahead of it and I think that's an absolutely marvellous thing."

Sir Ed and his first wife, the late Lady Louise, built the house in Remuera in 1956.

After Sir Ed's death, his neighbour, former NZ cricket rep Terry Jarvis, bought the property in 2009 and eventually gave the house to the school.

It will be used as a leadership centre for students from throughout New Zealand, and for the wider community.

"I think Dad would be delighted that the house has survived, firstly, and is out here as well," Peter Hillary said, "and, most importantly, not that it would just sit here as a 1950s museum relic and memorial to him, but that it has a whole new life as a leadership centre."

He said it was a fitting location, given that his father's charitable efforts had built 42 hospitals and schools in Nepal.

"All of them had their genesis here [in the house]."

Mr Hillary said he lived in the house for 30 years, and after his mother Louise and sister Belinda were killed in an air crash in Nepal in 1975, he and his father "basically flatted together".

The study, which will be restored and turned into a commemorative library, was Sir Ed's "dream factory", Mr Hillary said.

"He was a meticulous planner. Those dreams didn't come from nowhere. He spent hours down there, but you've got to have that little spark, and he was good at that."

Sir Ed's granddaughter Anna Boyer, now a member of the Hillary Leadership Trust, said that when she was a child, she found the study a place of wonder.

"It used to have these amazing Nepalese masks on the wall that my brother and I were totally terrified of. It was a place where he really worked."

Ms Boyer remembers the house as being full of social life, particularly when Sir Ed's charity the Himalayan Trust held its annual meetings there.

"Ed would bring all of the people he would work with from around the world, lots of Sherpas would come, and have these great parties and meetings. It was great for us as kids."

The house was transported free by Andrews Housemovers, and owner Gary Andrews said it was an honour to move it to South Auckland.

"I had 10 years living in Otara when I was a young fellow, so it means a lot."

Jack Liakimatagi watched the ceremony from his car after dropping a son and daughter off to school.

He said the house would be "more than huge" for the community and would become a local landmark.

Collegiate head girl Loiloi Finau said to have such a historically important building in Otara was "unreal".

"It's such an honour to have the house here. Everyone's so tight in this community, so when something happens like this it's amazing for us."

The school's commissioner, Gail Thomson, said Sir Ed's family would help the trust faithfully restore the home and possibly donate personal items. She said another $200,000 was needed to complete the project, and any donations from businesses or the public would be welcome.

The house is due to be officially opened at the end of May to mark the anniversary of Sir Ed's 1953 ascent of Mt Everest.