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Eke stopover for hut crew

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Eketahuna is rolling out the welcome mat for an expedition group raising funds to restore Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut in Antarctica.

Hillary’s Hut was the first building constructed at Scott Base where Sir Ed’s team began their historic Ferguson tractor expedition to the South Pole in 1957.

Unfortunately, nearly 60 years on, the hut has a leaking roof, asbestos that needs removing, melt-pools forming under the floorboards, and the memorabilia within the hut are showing signs of damage and corrosion.

Expedition South on their 2012km journey at One Tree Hill in Auckland. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Expedition South on their 2012km journey at One Tree Hill in Auckland. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Expedition South, which set off on a fundraising journey from Piha Beach last week, involves two Ferguson TE-20 tractors and a new Massey Ferguson MF5600, travelling 2012km to Mt Cook.

They will be staying the night at Eketahuna Camping Ground on September 3, a visit which camping ground managers Loreen and Kerry Cunningham are “very excited” about.

“These are the coolest visitors we’ve had,” Mrs Cunningham said.

“We didn’t even know they were coming until we saw it on TV.

“They had booked in but I didn’t realise it was that important at the time.”

Mrs Cunningham said she had been in contact with the Community Board to “hopefully organise something” for the occasion.
“We’d love to give these visitors a real Eketahuna welcome, a barbecue or something like that.

“That way, people can raise money for them, seeing as it’s a good cause and all that.”

All up, $1m must be raised to restore the hut.

Sir Ed’s son Peter Hillary, who himself has skied from Scott Base to the South Pole, said Antarctica and the hut were very important to his father.

Sir Edmund Hillary, Derek Wright and Murray Ellis, South Pole on January 20, 1958. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Sir Edmund Hillary, Derek Wright and Murray Ellis, South Pole on January 20, 1958. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

“Dad often talked about his time in Antarctica and the trip to the South Pole … he saw it as one of his major achievements, saying it was an extreme challenge after Everest,” Mr Hillary said.

“He spent a lot of time in that hut – it was where his office was and where his bunk was.

“I know he’d want it saved.”

Restoration plans are scheduled for this summer, so that the hut will be restored for the 60th anniversary of Scott Base.

The expedition tractors will also be passing through Wairarapa, stopping at TFM Tractors in Masterton on Sunday, September 4, from 12-2pm.

To donate to the restoration, visit expeditionsouth.nz

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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