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Happy New Year!
New Zealand’s greatest Citizen has died at age 88.
Sir Edmund Hillary (his name says it all really... no labels needed) was at one time more famous than his country; certainly in the mid-sixties when I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA. Literally NOBODY I talked to knew where my country was and few had heard of it. However I learned very quickly that if I mentioned Sir Edmund Hillary…bells of recognition started ringing! ’Oh! But he’s British…Are you British?’….and so on.
So I started working with New Zealand’s Advertising Agency Campbell & Ewald in San Francisco. They handled our Tourism & Publicity account and Air New Zealand also. It was pro bono(free) deal being if I helped to lift New Zealand’s profile, I would in turn lift mine. We used Music Marketing really an Event would be staged at San Francisco’s St. Francis Hotel for instance and before during or after the travel presentation… Ray Columbus would entertain those gathered (public, media et al).
It was so successful that I did similar projects throughout the Pacific Basin for many years some with New Zealand’s pre-eminent (at the time) Television Producer (‘C’MON”...”Happen Inn”) Kevan Moore; at the helm.
For the two years I was based in the USA…only SIR ED was there... in mention... seldom as a New Zealander (although I’m sure he would have constantly reminded them)…..until the WAHINE Disaster…and that made third page in the local paper….although it was a terrible accident...I still got some pride from the fact that it was noticed.
Yes I guess Lord Rutherford and other Kiwis over the years preceding Sir Ed’s Everest feat had profile in the USA but they didn’t have Television, faxes…mass media at their behest, so few would have known they were Kiwis.
In much the same way the most famous, high profile Kiwi in the USA in recent times would have to be Peter Jackson…he has the added benefit of the Internet, Movies, video and cell phones. He’s more than a Film Producer/Oscar winner too…he’s also a typically quirky Kiwi, un-typically American; not unlike Sir Ed. They have/had few airs and graces and let their feats tell the stories.
Of course the fact that Sir Ed’s are real and not in the realm of fantasy; matters not in the USA.
Who would be next as high profile Kiwis in the US? Sam Neill? Russell Crowe? Neil Finn? Your guess is as good as mine; they all have one foot in Australia in one way or another, certainly they claim them also…more power to them all.
Sir Edmund Hillary: his adventures, feats, Humanitarian work, basic goodness, no nonsense hard work and fabulous devotion to TWO countries NZ and Nepal- is for me the greatest New Zealander of all time and a hard act to follow as we say in show biz.
May he rest in peace but long may we celebrate his life.
He was born in the Year Of The Goat in the Chinese Horoscope...always climbing to the top, a perfectionist, yet, easy going and when on a project will always give his best. The Goat is born under the sign of Art... which may surprise many; but not I.
We met a few times and I was awed; but not made to be… Sir Ed was also a Gentleman and Lady Hillary just that... a lady… my deepest condolences to her and the Family; 88 is a good time to die but what a loss as a companion he will be I’m sure.
One little anecdote I hear over the last couple of day was this…’Lady June asked Sir Ed to get up the ladder and clean the leaves out of the spouting and he replied...’but Dear you know I’m afraid of Heights’! (can’t follow that).