Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jobs for Uncle Jerry

The Olympic Stadium in Sydney is a big piece of architecture, its main arch span is 295.6 metres (it could fit 4 Boeing 747’s side to side). Among it's many cunning features it has the capacity to change from a rectangle to an oval. In the weird and wonderful world that is Australian Sport this is useful, because Rugby League is played on a rectangle and Aussie Rules on an Oval. They do of course play other sports in Australia but they are not as exciting to the great Australian sporting public as these two are. Shane Warne only took up Cricket when he failed to make it in Australian Rules Football.

A whole section of the central stand on either side is mounted on runners and can be rolled forward or back. This is the kind of stuff that Uncle Jerry appreciates. When encountering something new and interesting Jerry will often cock his head slightly to one side, crack a smile and comment in a typically understated way along the lines of "That's quite something eh?"

This got me thinking what job Jerry could do at the Olympic Stadium. He could be the Chief Executive but that kind of corporate position would not resonate with his sense of call. One possibility would be being the worker who looks after the giant video screens. These are huge and very expensive. They have thousands of bulbs inside. Each in its place contributes to the big picture shown to the crowds in the stadium. Making sure each one is in the right place, is properly connected and shining is a job for Jerry.

This would involve scaling up to the gangplank for entry to the back of the screen but Jerry has always been up for a bit of adventure.

A further option would be the curator of the art and exhibits in the stadium. Many people have contributed from sporting legends like David Beckham writing his name on the wall, to memorable items being displayed (they probably have one of Jonny Wilkinson's plaster casts there - most stadiums do), to this art contributed by kids. This fostering of creativity and wanting to see everyone's contribution valued and included would resonate with Jerry.

Another option would be caring for the people. Some of the seats are sponsored with the names of those who sit there. Most churches have thankfully moved beyond pre-allocated seating but there are people here who come to all the events and some who just make occassional appearances. These seats are allocated to the Bland Family. Be it the bland family or the blind family Jerry would be interested in each one, know their name and love them despite their blandness. (even encourage them to tastiness)

Before you start thinking that the man is some kind of superman he would claim no special abilities. He is basically an ordinary minister. His priorities are the feeding, leading, loving, knowing, serving priorities of the shepherd. I am increasingly concerned by the number of ministers I talk to who who see themselves through a corporate lens. They see themselves as the CEO, the elders are the board, the congregation the shareholders and the community the customers. It steps away from the model of a shepherd to the model of a suit.

I rather like Gordon Ramsey. His language leaves a bit to be desired but he is passionate about what matters to him. He is scathing of restaurants where the food is not seen as the most important thing. The pastoral ministry is about feeding the flock. We can become too preoccupied with strategy, team building, community action, programmes and ideas that we lose the priority of feeding for and caring for the flock. I wonder what a spiritual Gordon Ramsey would make of the diet that is served up in many churches, youth groups and sunday schools?

Ministry is not a career it is a calling. Would somebody please feed the sheep.

Which is where the Gordon Ramsey analogy breaks down because I suspect that is not quite what he has in mind for the lamb thrown over his shoulder. But maybe that's the point. If we are not feeding the sheep we are killing them.

Which is why in the end the job that appealed to me most for Jerry is to be the guy who serves refreshments in one of the bars. It rather appropriately is called the "Sin Bin".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Signs of the Times

A few signs collected on recent travels in NZ and Australia.

I like this one because it asks a really clever question: "How dense do you want them?" It is clever and persuasive in making a connection but not too in your face. It is both obvious and subtle. It is one of ongoing frustrations that the people who have the best content are often totally uncreative and those who are strong creatively are often weak on content. I have never understood why the two can't go together.

This uses a common format but links directly into student culture in a student pub across from Otago University. It hits the spot somewhere between humerous, cynical and realistic. You don't see much on campus which engages directly with student experience.

I just enjoyed the irony of this. It is a power saving advert but works by a fluorescent light behind each panel going on and off. It is earnest and unaware of the hypocrisy of using power to save power. How we do things says something about what our core commitments actually are.

I have no idea what this is about on a gate in Dunedin. Certainly it has strong gospel resonance but the words themselves have greater meeting when spoken by a person into a context. Still, I guess it is better than the alternative.

Ailsa spoke about the book "If you want to walk on the water - you have to get out of the boat" when we were leaving Scotland. I am constantly amazed at how many people choose security and the known at the expense of adventure and faith. When and why did you decide that you were "Not the kind of person who....".

Poor choices however have negative consequences. As in this warning to keep out. "If the fall does not kill you the crocodile will". we sow what we reap and the idea that you can do what you like without consequences is farcical.

This is a sign encouraging transport passengers to step forward if they see something suspicious. It is a great description of faith sharing. A witness cannot help but speak of what they have seen and experienced.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Truth used to be out there.

The X Files became the longest running Sci Fi TV series and was deemed second only to Star Trek in terms of its cult status. At it's peak in the mid 90s it was hugely popular and over the almost ten years that the 9 series ran from 1993 was consistently innovative and often interesting. The main tag line was "The Truth is Out There" and the dynamic between the sceptical Scully and the open minded Mulder drove much of the character development and plot. The second movie is finally released next week and has been titled, to the dismay of many "Xphiles" or fans, "I want to believe".

The fans just think it is a rubbish title but the change in emphasis through the series and into the movies is noteworthy. "The Truth is Out There" spoke of empirical, observable realities. It said that through the confusion, the differences of opinion and the paranoia there was an ultimate, over arching truth which although not clear could in theory be accessed and was worthy of pursuit. "I want to believe" takes truth into a personal and subjective realm. The focus is less on the truth itself and more on the response of the individual.

The series of ideas which have become labeled as post-modernity would resonate with this progression. There is no objective truth which can be know, no meta-narrative or big story, no real meaning in words or ideas, certainly nothing external which can be accessed or referenced. Each must find their way in the darkness, every opinion valid and judgement entirely subjective and therefore irrelevant. And yet these ideas primarily have traction in the areas of morality, values, ethics and spirituality. Nobody seems that keen to take their car to a post-modern garage, have their assignments marked by a post-modern teacher or invest their money in a post-modern bank. Although post-modern doctors can be found and post-modern politicians may be desirable. The dialogue is central to much of the debate of 21st Century issues. Is there truth out there? Be it about global warming, poverty, ethics or the existence and nature of God or is it just a matter of sincere opinion from those who want to believe. Sincerity is no guarantee of veracity and wish fulfillment in the face of facts to the contrary is self delusion.

Katie Melua is not a renowned philospher but does have some valid perspectives on this issue.

There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
That's a fact,
It's a thing we can't deny
Like the fact that I will love you till I die.


We are twelve billion light years from the edge,
That's a guess,
No-one can ever say it's true
But I know that I will always be with you.


I'm warmed by the fire of your love everyday
So don't call me a liar,
Just believe everything that I say


There are six BILLION people in the world
More or less
and it makes me feel quite small
But you're the one I love the most of all



Deep in conversation as usual. A believer with a scientific bent and a sceptic with a religious past. If the Poster for the new movie is any clue the intersection of their lives and love may provide the key. Although in a world where they know to "Trust no one" there may not be a happy ending.

Without truth there can be no love. Without someone to trust there can be no answers. Belief in the truth is the key. As The Truth says "All things are possible to those who believe" and the response is deeply moving "Lord I believe, help my unbelief". It is faced with the reality of the truth that the desire to believe is kindled. I wonder what Mulder and Scully would have made of that X File.

The Jesus Phone

I was in London on the day of the launch of the new IPhone last week. Crowds thronged the Oxford Street store. Some had been queuing all night. One guy sold his place at the front of the line on ebay for $100. It is a neat little gadget but only available on contract plans at present for a minimum of 18 months. There were problems with the O2 system being unable to cope with the registrations so as of 10.30 the ones who got in at 8.00 had still not been connected. Why is it so important to get a device like this on the first day it is available? Status, the tactile experience, gadget joy, a sense of being there right at the start of something significant are probably all part of it. But the hype has also been extraordinary even by the standards of the well documented cult of apple.

T3 Magazine in its editorial said "At great expense we bring you the second coming of the Jesus Phone". It is a unusual use of Jesus as an adjective. Jesus usually has his name uttered when something bad happens. If this is code for perfection it is hard for a gizmo to live up to, even a shiny one, especially if it only has a 2 mega-pixel camera. If it is an allusion to the second coming of Jesus it is rather anti-climatic since a new world order has not been ushered in. The inside article continues the theme introducing the 3Gesus Phone. This language has been used since the launch of the first I Phone.

The I-Phone is a global movement. Fans speak of the I-Phone community, the I-Phone setting you free, in praise of the I-Phone and even talk of Steve Jobs in prophetic ways and an obsession with the product that goes beyond obsession to worship. One Blog I read spoke of "how the I-Phone saved me". All this religious imagery is quite interesting. People hungry for hope reach out for perfection, the Jesus Phone won't do the job. And as for the second coming of the real deal: people will not be queuing up over night in expectation. Some of them may in fact be busy with the numerous functions on their 3rd or 4th generation phones. That's the trouble with I-Cons. They fool you into thinking you have it all already.

The other danger with something that is your communication portal, digital media player, address book, diary and nexus of digital life is that it could become too important. At which point it crosses over from I-Phone to I-Dol. Still when the fuss dies down its probably worth getting one: it is VERY shiny and there are plenty of cool people in the cult that you can call, text, email or IM.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mosely Morality

Interesting moral standards prevail.

Max Mosely the President of the FIA was accused in the tabloid press of taking part in a sado-masochistic orgy with a Nazi theme. Mosely has been keen to refute the allegation that the event had any Nazi overtones. He has not sought to repudiate the allegation of participation in an orgy and has resisted calls for his resignation.

Speaking of the criticisms he had received, he said: "They're based on the idea that somehow you can't have in your life any sort of sexual activity that's at all eccentric. Most people say if somebody likes doing that, if it's not harming anybody, if it's in private and it's completely secret and personal, it's nothing to do with me."

This philosophy does not seem to apply in respect of the Nazi element, which is interesting. Also interesting is the idea that nobody is harmed. Mosley admitted his wife Jean was "not best pleased" and his sons were "embarrassed" at the revelations. Does this not count as “harm”, how does he assess the harm that may have been caused to any of the other participants in his “eccentric sexual activity”?

A similar mindset prevailed in the England Rugby Team when four of their players were accused of sexual assault. The precise allegations appear to be that two of the team had sex in a hotel room with a dancer they picked up in a club while two others watched. The defense was that the woman had, in fact, consented to this behaviour. There does not appear to have been any acknowledgement from either the players or the management that this may not be morally acceptable behaviour for young men, never mind those representing their country as professional athletes.

There is talk of a new code of conduct for the players. It will be interesting to see what it is based on.

In a culture with no shared moral framework and no objective basis for morality it is not easy to arbitrate when consensus collides with conscience. Orgies and group sex seem to be ok but Nazism and sexual assault are not. Apparently it is okay to pass public moral judgements on Robert Mugabe or when a man locks his daughter in a basement for years and label them as evil, (which they undoubtably are) but it is by no means clear what standards are being applied in passing these judgements.

A.W. Tozer , the 20th Century writer and preacher wrote : “No sin is private. It may be secret but it is not private.

It is a great error to hold, as some do, that each man's conduct 
is his own business unless his acts infringe on the rights of 
others. "My liberty ends where yours begins," is true, but that 
is not all the truth. No one ever has the right to commit an 
evil act, no matter how secret. God wills that men should be 
free, but not that they be free to commit sin.”

There can only be consistent and meaningful morality with reference to God. This might not be comfortable or popular but it is, nevertheless, true.

Monday, June 23, 2008

This is not a jersey

This is the tee shirt that Brad Jayacody was told to remove at Heathrow Terminal 5 if he was to be allowed to board his flight. Apparently having an image of a gun was enough to trigger serious concerns. I am all in favour of security and safety on flights but quite how a transformers cartoon threatens safety I am not sure.

This range of tee shirts with arabic script is designed to assert personal liberty/provoke a really hard time at the airport (delete as appropriate according to political persuasion). It translates "I am a not a terrorist". Interesting what makes different people choose different shirts and what meaning if any they attach to them.

The latest Adidas advertising campaign makes clear that this is not a jersey or a shirt at all.



Part of the campaign is that any baby born on the day of a home All Blacks test match this year is presented with a mini all black jersey.

Adidas New Zealand Marketing Manager John Beckett says the All Black jersey is a symbol of opportunity, achievement and success and seeing the jersey on a brand new life, is a reminder that every child born is a superstar of the future.

“The All Black jersey belongs to the team – a family. And providing the All Black jersey to a newborn signifies that the family, community and country as a whole are all part of a team that can help give children the best start in life."

Reaction to the campaign has been mixed. Some people seem to think that it is a little bit hyped. All I can say is that when I pull on my black jersey it is part of a fabric that connects and reminds and I can wear it secure that I won't be stopped from boarding a plane. At least not in New Zealand.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mangatepopo River Tragedy

A group of high school students on an outdoor education week at the Sir Edmund Hilary Centre at Tongariro National Park were swept away in freak weather conditions while canyoning in the Mangatepopo River yesterday. The group were all from Elim Christian School in Howick in Auckland. It is the same area in Auckland where Andy and Ines live. Tragically six students and a teacher lost their lives.

Elim Christian College today released details of the six students and a teacher who died in the tragedy in the Mangatepopo River yesterday. Full details of the seven, in the words of the school, are below:

Anthony Mulder
Anthony was a talented boy who recently represented our school at the Rotary RYPEN Leadership Camp. He loved the outdoors and loved his sports. He was a fun person with a great sense of humour and he loved to cook. He lived to serve the Lord especially through children's ministries.

Tom Hsu
Tom was always cheerful and had a great sense of humour. He loved God and gave his best in all he did. He was a peer support leader this year.

Portia McPhail
Portia was a gentle, kind, mature girl who loved playing and coaching netball. She was highly regarded by her peers. She was a well organised and motivated student.

Floyd Fernandes
Floyd was a highly talented musician who was very active in many areas of the school. A humble student who was a good all-rounder and who loved sports.

Natasha Bray
Natasha was a very talented all-round role model who loved God and people with a passion. She recently represented our school at the Rotary RYPEN Leadership Camp. She coached netball and was a Bronze Duke of Edinburgh recipient.

Tara Gregory
Tara was a friendly, mature and determined sports woman. She will be remembered as a brave, selfless and academic student.

Mr Tony McClean
Mr Tony McClean was an amazing teacher who loved God, life, students and sport. He had a passion for serving people and has made a huge contribution as our Sports Coordinator.

The loss to the school community is obviously huge and not made any easier by the full glare of the media spotlight. Tony, the teacher, had been involved in SU camps on and off for ten years. The principle and some of the bereaved parents have been amazing as they have spoken about the loss.

Andy Bray speaking about his daughter is particularly powerful.

The St Marks year 9s just got back from the same centre and Wellington College also had kids there recently. I have been involved in so many programmes like this over the years that I can easily imagine the situation. Despite the testimonies of hope it is heartbreaking and awful. Our prayers are with them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lessons from the Wahine

The 10th of April saw the 40th anniversary of the Wahine disaster. The Wahine was a ferry travelling from Lyttleton on the South Island to Wellington. During the night while the ferry sailed north the wind increased dramatically. Cyclone Giselle, met another storm over Wellington and caused some of the worst weather in New Zealand's history. The ship was driven onto Barretts Reef at the entrance to the harbour and subsequently had to be abandoned. Of the 610 passengers and 123 crew onboard 53 lost their lives. It is a poignant memory for Wellingtonians. Many remember the storm, their helplessness at the ship being so near but so far and the tragedy unfolding right in the middle of where the normality of life is conducted on a daily basis. Acts of heroism and sacrifice took place against the backdrop of tragedy and loss. The official inquiry concluded that the storm was the primary cause but that some mistakes had been made. 40 years on watching some of the survivors reflect I was struck by three lessons.

First is the danger of leadership that does not appreciate what is actually happening. When the Wahine ran aground all propulsion was lost. The captain ordered the anchors to be dropped. The crew were sure that the vessel was safe and the passengers, although at muster stations in life jackets, were told that there was nothing to worry about. Refreshments were served. When the harbour master came out in a tug the message was again relayed that everything was under control. Below decks the vehicle deck was flooding causing the vessel to list. When the captain eventually left the bridge to inspect the damage below decks for himself he realised the severity of the situation. If the big picture had been grasped sooner the evacuation could have been smoother and potentially more lifeboats could have been launched.

Second is the problem of jargon. When the order was eventually given the order was given to "abandon ship from the starboard side". People were confused and panicking. Many did not know which side was starboard. Some jumped from the high side of the ship, in some cases to their deaths. If the order had been given to "abandon ship from the low side" the passengers would have understood. Information can be technically correct but functionally limited.

Thirdly is the danger of misreading the signs. The wreck was very close to the city side of the harbour. Some lifeboats made it ashore at Seatoun, others were plucked from the water by boaties going out in the storm. What most of the rescuers and watchers failed to appreciate was that the wind and the current was driving many to the far side of the harbour. Over 200 survivors washed up on the Eastbourne side and many who died, perished on that rocky shore. Many rescuers were not where the people needing rescue were.

The faces of the survivors bother me. They have the look of those who have suffered a trauma that might not have been avoidable but could certainly have been managed better. I am sure that all involved in making decisions that day did their best. But people died. Names on memorials now but their loss to those who loved them cannot be counted these 40 years. It would be easy to point the finger at governments but I think my concerns lie nearer to home. How many mission agencies and churches have leaders who do not grasp what is going on, communicate in language that is not understood and do not grasp where the most needy people are heading. As I reflect on my own leadership I find myself having sympathy for Hector Gordon Robertson, Robbie to his friends, Captain of the Wahine.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Student Life Today

Interesting video out of University of Kansas. Thought I would put it on both blogs as it kind of crosses over. Collated perceptions rather than empirical research but in some ways more powerful because of that.

What comes through most strongly is University education is frequently stuck in a time-warp and has not adapted approaches to the changing context. The video is titled "A vision of students today". The lack of personal relationship with faculty, the disconnect with real life, the magnitude of this generations inherited problems and the mounting debt are all fairly predictable from our own interactions with students. It is a glimpse not a vision.

The biggest issue in tertiary education today is that there is no vision for students today. At least no compelling vision that stirs the imagination of a new generation, excites them about ideas, pushes the boundaries of creativity in delivery and really prepares young men and women for life.

I wonder how long universities in their current form and funding model can survive. I wonder what we are doing to actively work for the transformation of Universities or at least their improvement. It is yet another situation where the baby boomers are in control and in denial.

More Starbucks Cups

Following on from todays post on Pacificscots I have been doing more investigating into the Starbucks coffee cup "The Way I see it" programme. Sure it encourages a relativistic view of truth, you have your ideas and I have mine but I reckon that is the starting position anyway. It is not a new programme - it started several years ago but continues to generate a huge amount of discussion and opinion.

Starbucks describe the point of why they started it.

“Sparking conversation In the tradition of coffee houses everywhere, Starbucks has always supported a good, healthy discussion. To get people talking, “The Way I See It” is a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures that now appear on our widely shared cups.”

#162 by Robert Shrum
“The test in life is not how far we go, but where we stand. Will we give in to selfishness and fear, or seek for others what we demand for ourselves: dignity and an equal chance?”

#185 by Anna Nalick
"A valuable lesson I've learned from making music is to never let anyone intimidate me. Every student, celebrity, CEO and math teacher in the world has experienced love, loneliness, fear and embarrassment at some point. To understand this is to level an often very lopsided playing field."

#247 by Bill Scheel
"Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside us for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure."

#289 by Chip Giller
"So-called “global warming” is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy
independent, clean our air and water, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start 21st-century industries, and make
our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!"

#27 by Noah benShea
"Do not kiss your children so they will kiss you back but so they will kiss their children, and their children’s children."

#31 by Rita Goldman Gelman
"Risk-taking, trust, and serendipity are key ingredients of joy. Without risk, nothing new ever happens. Without trust, fear creeps in. Without serendipity, there are no surprises."

They do vary in quality but they do sometimes invoke strong responses

Given Starbucks recent commercial problems perhaps they should hire this guy as a consultant.

Or maybe see if there are any bright ideas on the sides of their cups.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Wellington Sevens

Imagine a great mass of people from different tribes and nations. They gather together in good spirits in common cause. They are glad to have got there and sing and shout. If you are theologically literate you might be forgiven for imagining this could be heaven. Only it is Wellington - and it lasts 2 days rather than eternity and its about rugby not about God.

In fact it is only loosely about rugby. The event sells out in ten minutes and is vastly over-suscribed but for most of the two days there are huge gaps in the stadium and it is never totally full. Being there, getting there and enjoying it take precedence for most over the love of the game. It is great fun and an event that has become a highlight in the Wellington year.

If you look more closely at the crowd you will notice that people are in groups - usually dressed in similar vein. In fact several of the individual fancy dress prizes were won by trios. people choosing to go in either identical or as below complementary costumes.

I think that the "going together/being together" aspect of the Sevens is really interesting. Some of the groups are nationally orientated in support of the team. Like these colourful Fijians.

The desire to belong is strong. In an individualistic and fragmented world glimpses of community are precious. It is fun and fantasy and demonstrates in some cases enormous creativity and hard work. If we do not belong to a tribal group with customs, costumes and confidence perhaps we seek to forge our own expressions of belonging.

Which begs some interesting questions. How much do we have to conform to belong? How much diversity is desirable? and if the 7s fall some way short of actually being heaven on earth - where can I find a church that does it better?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Local Hero

Ask any New Zealander which Kiwi they respect the most and the answer would have been the same for most of past 5 decades: Sir Edmund Hillary. His death last week has produced a huge outpouring of both grief and celebration. The sense of loss may even be greater than the World Cup quarter final against France. There are few living people who are honoured on the bank notes of their nation. Today his funeral drew crowds in Auckland.

What made this unassuming man such a national hero?

Obviously the achievment of climbing Everest is what made his reputation, initiated the legend and brought recognition. He was reckoned to be the best high altitude climber in the world in 1953. It was the pinnacle of the age of exploration, the last frontier to be conquered and catapulted Hillary and Tensing Norgay to a level of celebrity for which neither was prepared.

"In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander: I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination, and I rather like to succeed."

His adventuring continued including a role in Vivian Fuchs expedition in 1957 to drive across Antartica where his support role developed into slightly more when he drove on to the South Pole arriving two weeks before the expedition leader. A decision viewed in England as being rather unpatriotic and in New Zealand as rather splendid.

It is not easy to carve out a career when you are one of the most famous people in the world and have finished the thing that made you famous. It is hard to top the Everest achievment! He served as High Commissioner in India from 1985 to 1989 and as a special envoy for Unesco and has lent his name to many endeavours and projects.

His friendship with Norgay had given him a great appreciation of the Sherpa people and just as the summit ties them together so the life of Edmund Hillary has become entwined with the people of Nepal. His wife and 16 year old daughter were killed in 1975 when their small plane crashed on take off. But this personal tragedy did not deflect him from his commitment to investing time and energy to improve the lives of the Sherpa people.

Nepal is the 12th poorest country in the world and the Sherpas live in a particularly isolated situation which makes basic infrastructure challenging, in recent times the impact of tourism has caused accelerated deforestation. Through the mobilising of volunteers and the establishing of the Himalayan Trust, endemic diseases have been succesfully treated, two hospitals and 13 health clinics have been built, 30 schools have been established along with a teacher training college and tertiary feeder campus. Solu Khumba now has the best health and education service outside Kathmandu. National Parks have been initiated, rangers trained and over 1 million trees have been planted. Local people have been trained and helped into business so that more of the benefits of tourism go to the community. This sustained effort and the work done is perhaps Ed Hillarys greatest legacy.

Hillary had a vision which was shaped by 5 core principles. These were cutting edge and resonate with many of the ideals of the Vine Trust.

1. To focus on basic infrastructure :

Hillary wanted to give the Sherpas the basic resources to help them help themselves. So he supported projects that developed education, basic health, and forestry programmes to rejuvenate their natural resources.

2. To only do what was requested by the Sherpas

Hillary wanted to avoid giving things that weren't really wanted. He insisted that all projects originated from a specific request by a group or community of local people.

3. To involve the Sherpas themselves in the work - "Self Help"

As well as further demonstrating the relevance of a project, the Sherpas own involvement would make the money go further. So if they wanted a new school .... "Fine, the Trust will buy the materials, but you carry them in on your backs and help build it!".

4. To minimise all unnecessary costs

The Tust was to be staffed by volunteers. Overheads would (apart from a skeleton project management team on the ground) be eliminated.

5. Direct transfer of funds

The money would be carried direct to Nepal - originally by Hillary himself. there would be no leakage through the system... the money would flow literally from a fund raiser event directly to buy materials in Nepal.

The Sherpa people are a hardy people not prone to emotionalism but describing their relationship with Hillary they say "He is our father and our mother".

For New Zealanders he is "our boy" and there is a belief that the virtues of physical strength, humility, compassion and practical action are those that we believe are those that the nation embodies. He is a mirror in which kiwis like to see their own reflection. He is a focus of national identity and for New Zealanders has inspired a generation to greater self belief and national pride. In the complex and evolving confusion that is New Zealand identity Hillary has been an important ingredient.

His impact has been significantly beyond his self assessment.
"I was just an enthusiastic mountaineer of modest abilities who was willing to work quite hard and had the necessary imagination and determination. I was just an average bloke; it was the media that transformed me into a heroic figure. And try as I did, there was no way to destroy my heroic image. But as I learned through the years, as long as you didn’t believe all that rubbish about yourself, you wouldn’t come to much harm."

The way that Edmund Hillary handled the fame and recognition not to benefit himself but for the benefit of others is a great example in these days of easy and meaningless "celebrity" culture. He kept the common touch and was listed in the Auckland phone directory. Many have testified since his death to his accessibility. A boy doing research for a school project phoned him up and was given a few minutes. It is the sum of such moments that accumlutes mana. Heroism in New Zealand is not something which is afforded to many. Beyond the heroic mythology I think he would like to be remembered as an ordinary man who did some extraordinary things, including climbing a mountain.