Former Hastings man, mountaineer and polar explorer George Lowe has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list.
Mr Lowe, who has lived in England since about 1960, was a member of the 1953 British Everest Expedition which made the first successful assault on the world’s highest mountain.
Two years later he joined the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition as photographer for what was to be the first crossing of the continent, a 4000km, 99-day trek.
Mr Lowe has had an active role on the management committee of the Trans-Antarctic Association since it was formed in 1962 to provide financial assistance to Commonwealth exploration projects. He is also chairman of the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust in the United Kingdom.
It is for services to New Zealand interests in the United Kingdom that he receives the award, the third highest of the New Zealand Royal honours.
Mr Lowe was born in Hastings in 1924 attending West School (now Raureka) and then Hastings High School. Following university, teachers’ college and completing his country service, he taught at Parkvale School before joining the Everest expedition.
After the Antarctic crossing Mr Lowe returned to his profession of teaching, but finding the New Zealand education authorities uncompromising in their refusal to acknowledge his years of experience at Everest and in the Antarctic, he moved to England. There he accepted the offer of a post at the prestigious boys’ public school Repton where he had spoken during a lecture tour of the United Kingdom and United States following the successful expedition.
He later went to Chile where for 16 years he was headmaster of another large private school, Grange School in San Diego. He returned to England to be a school inspector until his retirement in 1984.
When in Hastings he was a member of Heretaunga Tramping Club of which he is former patron and now a life member. Mr Lowe still returns to Hastings every few years to visit his brother Arch and other family.
But home is a .8 hectare block in Derbyshire where he and his second wife Mary have developed a garden specialising in Southern Hemisphere trees.
He still goes to Nepal regularly, combining visits to Hillary Trust projects with private trekking.