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Outcry over future of Sir Edmund Hillary’s property in New Zealand

The keys for the two storey property in Auckland will be handed over next week to the new owners but Sir Edmund's daughter Sarah said the family fears it may be bulldozed and his favourite Himalayan pine tree chopped down.

She said the family would just like to know what is going to happen but they will be deeply saddened if the property, which sold for $1.93 million, is demolished.

'I would prefer if someone lived there happily but I can't control what happens,' she said. The family has moved the furniture from the property and been collecting feijoas and guavas from the trees in the garden for the last time.

Sarah Hillary said she understood that neighbours had bid for the house and that the tall Himalayan pine which her father planted in the 1950s obscured their view. But this was denied by neighbour Terry Jarvis.

David Rainbow, the Bayleys real estate agent who auctioned the house, said the Hillary family would like the closure of knowing who had bought the property, and what the buyer's plans were for the house. In 25 years, he said, he had never sold a house without knowing who the buyer was.

One neighbour said the only reason to keep the building would be sentimental value as it was not in a good state of repair but the land was worth a lot. 'It would be far more economic to redevelop the site but there would be a public outcry,' she said.

Another resident in the area said the new owners would become 'public enemy number one if they demolished the house.

Sarah said that proposals to turn the house into a museum had never been practical but the family would have liked the house to be preserved in some way.