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Calls for Sir Ed public holiday

Published: 6:40PM Monday January 14, 2008 Source: ONE News

The country is searching for a way to remember Sir Edmund Hillary after his death on Friday last week, with some calls for a public holiday in his memory.

Public holidays usually celebrate historical events or religious traditions.

So a holiday in memory of Hillary would make him the only person, apart from the queen, to have the honour.

He's already been honoured with an obe, schools and streets are named after him. He's also on a banknote and there is statues in his honour.

Nationally, New Zealand recognises ten public holidays. The possible days for an annual tribute to Sir Ed could be the anniversary of his death, the day he reached the summit of Mount Everest, or his birthday.

"The best way for this country to commemorate Sir Edmund Hillary's life would be through a public holiday that all of us could share, the ordinary people of this country as well as the elite," says Green Party MP Sue Bradford.

Some, such as former Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves, have put forward the idea of a mountain being named after him.

While Prime Minister Helen Clark says a lasting memorial could involve government help for his charity work in Nepal. She says it is what Sir Ed himself suggested a few years ago and it is something she will investigate.

However, Business New Zealand says having a public holiday for Sir Ed will cost the country, and a public holiday isn't the most appropriate way to remember him.

"Inevitably there'd be some administrative and cost difficulties with having another statutory holiday," says Business New Zealand spokesman Phil O'Reilly.

It would also require a law change, but the Prime Minister does not want to comment - saying it's now time to focus on the funeral arrangements.