Sir Ed Hillary's family urge Kiwis to donate $5 to support vital work in Nepal

Today marks the 68th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of Mount Everest, and this year, the Himalayan Trust needs an extra boost. 

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Peter Hillary, Sir Ed’s son, talks about the Fiver for Ed campaign. Source: Seven Sharp

Since the 1960s when Sir Ed built the first school in the Everest region, the trust has helped improve education, health, and brought safe water to remote communities in Nepal, a country where half its population lives on less than $3 a day. 

All of the trust’s money that usually goes to helping those communities build infrastructure has been gulped up by the pandemic. It’s feared that by July, new case numbers in Nepal - which has a population of 30 million - could reach 800,000. 

To meet the new need, the Himalayan Trust is asking Kiwis to “Give Five for Ed” for its annual fundraiser, in honour of the face of New Zealand’s $5 note. 

Trust chairman Peter Hillary, Sir Ed’s son, said his contacts in Nepal’s Everest region had been telling him Covid-19 was spreading through the community. 

“It’s been an absolute tragedy,” he told Seven Sharp. 

He said people in Nepal needed PPE, vaccines and testing kits.

Peter said his father would be “absolutely devastated” if he’d heard about what was happening in Nepal. 

But, he said the region had faced challenges like smallpox outbreaks before. In 1963, Sir Ed organised an airdrop of smallpox vaccines to vaccinate people. 

“He would be absolutely determined to be proactive. That’s the sort of guy that he was,” Peter said.