Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In Ed we trust

The latest Reader’s Digest poll finds that Sir Edmund Hillary is still New Zealand’s most-trusted person. The list also revealed that eight of the top ten trusted people were sport figures.

The Prime Minister, at 58, was the only ranked politician, but she came in just after a right-wing magazine publisher who has been mounting an attack campaign against her and the Labour-led Government.

The only religious leader, at 75, is a far-right TV preacher most famous for leading black-shirted marchers against
New Zealand’s then-pending Civil Union Bill. The marchers gave what was eerily similar to Nazi-style salutes as they marched, all of which did as much as anything to turn off ordinary New Zealanders. To his credit, the TV preacher learned from that mistake, and made sure that his marchers stopped wearing black shirts or giving stiff-armed salutes.

The results of the poll tend to reinforce the notion that Reader’s Digest demographic is older and far more conservative than the population generally. Or, maybe they’re just weirder. The Australian version found that the sixth most-trusted Australian was 8-year-old Bindi Irwin, the daughter of the late “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin (who was at 60 on last year’s list). Bindi was just ahead of her mum, American-born Terri, who was the seventh most-trusted Australian. The third most-trusted Australians, collectively, are The Wiggles.

Nevertheless, I have no trouble believing that Sir Ed—who conquered Mt. Everest 54 years ago today—is the most trusted Kiwi. He’s the epitome of how New Zealanders see themselves—modest, self-effacing, brave, quietly effective and outward looking (he is, in fact, the exact opposite of many of the others on the New Zealand list, that TV preacher in particular). Sir Ed is widely regarded the greatest living New Zealander, so it’s no surprise he tops the most-trusted list, too.

Photo of Sir Ed by Graeme Mulholland. It can be found here.

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