24 Jan 2019

Sherpa Tenzing's sons travel through Aotearoa

8:17 pm on 24 January 2019

As China cuts the number of climbers at Mt Everest, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's sons are in New Zealand to discuss indigenous approaches to tourism with Māori.

Dhamey Tenzing Norgay (centre) and Norbu Tenzing (right), sons of Nepal's most famous Sherpa Tenzing Norgay visit Mt Hikurangi.

Dhamey Tenzing Norgay (centre) and Norbu Tenzing (right), sons of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay visit Mt Hikurangi. Photo: Facebook / NZ Māori Tourism

The sons of Nepal's most famous Sherpa Tenzing Norgay who scaled Mt Everest - or Chomolungma - with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 will travel through Aotearoa to meet with iwi.

Norbu Tenzing and Dhamey Tenzing Norgay are being hosted by Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rangi, and Ngāti Ruanui.

Last year Norbu Tenzing, who is the Vice President of the American Himalayan Foundation, spoke at the World Indigenous Tourism Summit in Waitangi. Joining him this year is his brother Dhamey Tenzing Norgay.

Together they will travel across the country throwing light on their experiences on how Māori could promote tourism while still preserving the mountains.

Norbu Tenzing told Morning Report, there were too many people climbing Mt Everest, several who were not physically ready or had no business going up.

"Mt Everest is a big business. The Nepalese government last year collected $US5million in royalties alone. The Sherpa people want to be more involved in the activities on the mountain," he said.

Sherpas are often stretched too thin trying to get a wealthy foreign climber to the top, resulting in many dying, he said.

(FILES) Picture dated 03 July 1953 of Mount Everest conquerors Edmund Hillary (R) and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (L) at London's Heathrow airport on their arrival from the expedition.

Sherpa Tenzing Norgay with Sir Edmund Hillary Photo: AFP

"Climbing Mt Everest is a dream for many people, for us, it's a spiritual journey," he said.

"But, when people are inexperienced and when money is the driving force, then you have a really bad mix, oftentimes putting the lives of Sherpas at risk.

"Fewer people on Everest would be a good idea."

China limits climbers

This picture taken on May 23, 2010 shows a Nepalese sherpa collecting garbage, left by climbers, at an altitude of 8,000 metres during the Everest clean-up expedition at Mount Everest. A group of 20 Nepalese climbers, including some top summiteers collected 1,800 kilograms of garbage.

On the Nepalese side, organizers have begun sending trash bags with climbers. (File photo) Photo: AFP

This week China announced that it would cut the number of climbers attempting to scale Mt Everest from the north by one-third this year as part of plans for a major cleanup.

Parts of Everest are in China and Nepal. Each year, about 60,000 climbers and guides visit the Chinese north side of the mountain.

China has set up stations to sort, recycle and break down garbage from the mountain, which includes cans, plastic bags, stove equipment, tents and oxygen tanks.

On the Nepalese side, mountaineering expedition organisers have begun sending huge trash bags with climbers during the spring climbing season to collect trash that then can be winched by helicopters back to the base camp.

Taken by New Zealand's respect for the environment

Since his time in New Zealand, Norbu Tenzing said he was taken by the Tiaki Promise, about respecting the culture, the environment and leaving only footsteps behind.

"I wish that these initiatives are mirrored in Nepal."

The Tiaki Promise is an initiative encouraging all travellers in New Zealand to act as guardians.

"I had the honour of enjoying the first sunrise over Mt Hikurangi. To witness the ceremony, people's respect, the deep sense of history and association they have with the environment was quite touching," he said.

The Tenzing brothers will also visit to Mt Aoraki and Mt Taranaki.

"As I and my family journey across New Zealand we hope to meet with iwi to learn more about what they feel is important about preserving the mountains and I hope that these are lessons we can pass down to our children and generations as we'll be stewards of the mountain."

- with reporting from AP

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