To honour and acknowledge the sad loss of The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award Founder, HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Gold Award participant's Jessica Verkuil and Jemimah Olive, alongside Search The Way Award Unit Leaders Justin Blacklock and Silvia Castillo Pinto, raised a New Zealand flag 'half-mast' on the highest point of the Heaphy Track on the 11th of April, 2021.
The news of the sudden passing of His Royal Highness came as a shock to the tramping party, just as they were about to start a Gold Award Qualifying Adventurous Journey over 5 days on one of Aotearoa's iconic Great Walks, the 78km long Heaphy Track. It was decided by the party that they would pay tribute to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh by raising a New Zealand flag half-mast at the highest point on the Heaphy Track, at Flanagans Corner (915m), near Perry Saddle. Unfortunately, or perhaps fittingly, the outlook was shrouded in a cloak of mist, as on a clear day one can usually get stunning views of Kahurangi National Park, Golden Bay and even Mt Taranaki and the North Island.
Jessica and Jemimah are but two representatives of countless young lives that have been hugely inspired and positively impacted by The Award, that His Royal Highness set up in 1956, with it's New Zealand beginning being in 1963. The International Award is now run across every corner of the globe, with participants aged between 14-24, developing essential lifeskills across Skill, Service, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey sections. The life example of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's dedication to service and commitment to make a lasting difference whereever he went, is truly admirable and inspirational, and we are sure that alongside his many other fine works, The Duke of Edinburgh's International - Hillary Award, will prove to be a lasting legacy, as lived through the lives of many rangatahi, both here in Aotearoa New Zealand and across the world.
"Waihoki kia tiaho to koutou marama ki te aroaro o nga tangata, kia kite ai ratou i a koutou hanga pai, kia whakakororia ai i to koutou Matua i te rangi". ('Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven'.) - Matthew 5:16.