A state memorial service was given to the late Sir Edmund Hillary today 22nd January 2008. The remarkable service was held for this great hero was held at St. Mary's church, which is neighbouring the Auckland Holy Trinity Cathedral where he was laid in state.
Sir Edmund, the New Zealander who conquered Mt. Everest died in the Auckland Hospital some few weeks ago, aged 88.
A Condolence Book was available both at the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Auckland Museum for mourners and well-wishers to express their thoughts. The Ghanaian Assoc of New Zealand Inc and some Ghanaian families like the Essuman family, Dwamena Family just to mention a few were at the Auckland Museum to add their names and remarkable thoughts. The Condolence Books will be presented to Lady Hillary and the Hillary family.
The Prime Minister Helen Clark at the funeral said it was Sir Edmund Hillary's “can do” attitude that endeared him to New Zealanders. He was part of the “New Zealand family” she said. Also in her speech at Sir Ed's funeral in Auckland, Miss Clark said “Sir Ed described himself as a person of modest abilities. In reality he was a colossus. He was our hero. He brought fame to our country. We admired his achievements and the great international respect in which he was held,”
“We loved Sir Ed for what he represented – a determination to succeed against all odds, humility, an innate sense of fair play, and a tremendous sense of service to the community, at home and abroad,” she said.
The streets of Auckland were lined by well-wishers today to farewell Sir Edmund Hillary. People clapped as the hearse carrying the body by-pass them on the road. Others were also tossing flowers onto the hearse carrying his casket. The funeral procession started from St. Mary's, wound through the Auckland Domain, then Newmarket and Remuera. Sir Ed's hearse was travelling approximately between 12 and 14km/hr with an escort by another hearse for the floral tributes. Cars followed the two hearses with June, Lady Hillary accompanied by the Prime Minister Helen Clark. The police escorted the cortege.
As the cortege headed through the shopping strip of Newmarket, businesses shut for the first time in honour of the great New Zealander.
After the funeral procession, a private cremation was done at Purewa. The ashes of this great man may be scattered on the Auckland's Hauraki Gulf from the sail training ship, the Spirit of New Zealand.
This last ceremony is likely to be accomplished because in Sir Ed's book View From the Summit, published nearly 10 years ago he said he had never had any desire to end his days at the bottom of a crevasse on a mountain.
“I've been down too many of them for that to have much appeal” and “like my ashes spread on the beautiful waters of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf to be washed gently ashore or may be on the many pleasant beaches near the place where I was born. Then the full circle of my life would be complete.”