Leadership, teamwork, perseverance and helping others

Making outdoor education affordable for every young New Zealander wanting to attend the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) at Tongariro or Great Barrier Island through Hillary Step Scholarships.

Hillary StepOPC and the Hillary Foundation is now proactively helping parents, secondary schools, community groups such as local Lions Clubs and philanthropic organisations or individuals raise money for “good kiwi kids” to attend a Hillary Step Scholarship course at Tongariro.

It is often the good kids who fly under the radar and miss out. These are tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers who will shape New Zealand society. By giving them a chance for a life changing experience in the outdoors, we will ensure the future of New Zealand is in good hands.

In 2011 a pilot programme was run for Taita and Naenae Colleges in the Hutt Valley. Sixty students, along with 10 parents and teachers attended the inaugural Hillary Step Programme. The response from students, parents and the schools has been extremely positive and OPC has undertaken to extend the programme to communities throughout the country.

Students and their families are asked to contribute $100 each toward the $750 (including GST) cost. They are also asked to “pay it forward” by helping fellow pupils fundraise in successive years, making the Hillary Step Programme become more sustainable.

This year the programme has been extended and an estimated 400 young Kiwis from low decile schools have got their hands up for a Hillary Step Scholarship. They are from South Auckland, Rotorua, the Central Plateau and Porirua City.


The Hillary Step

How many times do we let slip the prize when it is almost within our grasp? So often, the difference between lasting glory and gut wrenching failure hinges on a superhuman surge of self-belief by one individual that takes us over the line.

hillary stepIt’s May 29 and the year is 1951. The man is Edmund Hillary and he is in the death zone of Everest. He is exhausted from the climb to 28,840 feet where the air delivers only a quarter of its normal oxygen content compared to sea level.

Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing had literally hit a stone wall. Their noses are up against a sheer 40-foot vertical rock face. Beyond it is the ultimate prize – the summit of Everest.

It is time to dig deep, muster inner reserves and break through the pain barrier. The world is watching and waiting. Failure would bring them no disgrace. But success would bring an enormous sense of achievement and along with it international fame and recognition.

The rock face that Hillary and Tenzing successfully conquered is today called the Hillary Step.

This final hurdle faces us regularly in everyday life. There are Hillary Steps all around us. In playing sport, in fighting illness or adversity and in any human endeavour that strives towards identifiable goals.

What more fitting tribute could there be than for us to weave the concept of a “Hillary Step” into the thinking of young New Zealanders. For it to become a common turn of phrase and the opposite of an “Achilles Heel”.

By routinely acknowledging and admiring the successful resolution of collective problems by an individual’s outstanding ability to dig deep and provide the final push, we would ensure that our Kiwi icon will always be remembered.

We would be championing the resolute determination and very special strength of character that we love and that allowed Sir Ed to “knock the bastard off”.

We all know that we need more of this quality, both in our community leadership in order to make things happen, and in ourselves as individuals to live our lives to the full.

To have courage in our convictions and an unshakeable belief in our ability to achieve -these are great qualities to draw out and encourage in each other.