15 May 2009

Hillary family wants will clarified

7:04 pm on 15 May 2009

Sir Edmund Hillary's son says his family is being denied full access to the personal items their father gifted to the Auckland War Memorial Museum in his will.

Peter Hillary is seeking a ruling from the Auckland High Court regarding a part of Sir Edmund's will which gives papers and other items to the museum.

Mr Hillary says his family is being denied proper involvement in how the personal items are used.

He says the items were gifted by Sir Edmund on the proviso that his children have access to them and be consulted if they are published.

Mr Hillary says the museum is talking about claiming intellectual property rights to the items. He is happy that the items are at the museum, but says many are family treasures.

He says communication with the museum has broken down and wonders how they will be able to work together in future.

Museum director Vanda Vitali says she hopes the relationship with the Hillary family will improve, and it would be sad if it decides to not give any more of Sir Edmund's personal items for display.

Ms Vitali says the museum believes it is a good idea to have the issue clarified.

However, a former director of the museum, Rodney Wilson, says the dispute is sad and not a good look for the museum.

Mr Hillary says he particularly wants to be consulted regarding pictures of his mother and sister, who were killed in a plane crash in 1975.

Mr Wilson believes Mr Hillary's request is reasonable.

"Most families would find the loss of mother and sister incredibly tragic, anyway. I would've thought that's a totally reasonable expectation and that the museum be respectful of that request and wish to uphold it."