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Sir Edmund Hillary family in court battle with museum: Report

world Updated: May 17, 2009 16:57 IST

PTI
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The son and daughter of Sir Edmund Hillary are to move a court in New Zealand to keep control of the Everest conqueror's personal papers bequeathed to the Auckland Museum in his will.

Sarah and Peter Hillary will bring the action against the executors of their father's estate at Auckland High Court next month in an effort to block public access to Sir Edmund's writings, old diaries and many family photographs, according to reports in the Kiwi media.

In fact, the dispute is actually with the Auckland War Memorial Museum over the interpretation of a clause in Sir Edmund's will, which states that no other person or corporate body may publish the material without the consent of Hillary's children for 20 years after Sir Edmund's death.

According to Peter Hillary, the dispute began last June adding to an already distressing time after their father's death in January.

"The museum is asserting absolute ownership -- complete intellectual rights over how it's used. This is our history -- a lot of it is family stuff, photos of the children, our mother, our family. I don't think it's unreasonable that we are consulted about it," he said.

But, the museum opposes the Hillarys' view that they have ownership rights to Sir Edmund's possessions. "Its interpretation is that the clause does not bind it in any way," Richard Wilson, one of the will's executors, said.

John Key, the Prime Minister, has described the quarrel as "unedifying" and said he found the situation "very sad". He has offered to do anything he could to resolve the impasse.