About The Institute



The Institute was launched by Sir Edmund from Antarctica on 22 January 2007 in the company of our patron, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, and principal philanthropic investor Jan Cameron.

Founded as a NZ registered charity to honour Sir Ed’s extraordinary legacy of leadership, the Institute's work is globally focused, selecting one Laureate annually, a leading social entrepreneur who also embodies the humanitarian commitment of Sir Ed. An additional premiere award of the Hillary Step (valued currently at NZ$100,000) was first given in 2012 after our first four years of work.

The Institute has celebrated eight Hillary Laureates in the past decade, three of whom have also been awarded US$100,000 Hillary Step awards. While coming from across the globe, (US, UK, China, South America, Sweden and Kiribati), the Hillary Laureates are united by exceptional mid-career, leadership, impact at scale, and a deep sense of purpose driving their work. See our Laureate page for the extraordinary characters who we have supported and celebrated.

“It’s a New Zealand equivalent to the Nobel Prize for leadership”
— Helen Clark, Former Administrator UNDP (2009-17), Prime Minister of NZ (1999-2008)