ACAT hires Edwin Sheppard as General Manager

ACAT is excited to officially announce that we have hired a General Manager to lead the organisation. Edwin Sheppard is an experienced climber who has a legal background in resource management, health and safety and dispute resolution. He has been a key part of ACAT’s development since its inception.

Climber in blue shirt and white helmet climbs a crack in a rock face, seen from above.

Edwin Sheppard on Badlands, Whanganui Bay. Photo: John Palmer.

Recruiting a GM was a top priority for ACAT. This is the first time that anyone has ever been paid to work specifically on rock climbing access issues in New Zealand and it is a huge step towards reversing the trend of accelerating crag closures.

Edwin has already contributed to many of ACAT’s wins including:

  • The purchase of Waipari (formerly Froggatt Edge) by climbers in an historic win for the climbing community.
  • Successfully advocating for climbing to continue in Auckland and Waikato under the level 3 lockdown last year.
  • Developing a strong policy team that is advocating for climbers on national issues. 

ACAT would like to sincerely thank the 250+ individual climbers and organisations who have made donations, everything we have achieved is due to your support and generosity. Thanks also to the New Zealand Alpine Club for ongoing support and seed funding.

The ACAT Board of Trustees ran a formal recruitment process to ensure it found the best candidate for the GM role. There were several strong candidates, which bodes well for the future of the organization. However, the Board ultimately selected Edwin because along with his passion for Aotearoa’s climbing community and crags, his legal expertise will help ACAT take a professional approach to access issues.   

Edwin works for ACAT 20 hours a week and supporting the community is a core focus. He wants to create a strong voice for climbers at the national level and start to legitimise climbing as a valuable recreational activity. On a local level, he’s hoping to help ACAT prevent further crag closures, and do more to care for the environment and connect with local communities in a positive way.

Edwin says of the challenge ahead:

“In the past, climbing has been a fringe activity and often under-the-radar. With recent growth in the sport, that isn’t possible anymore, so we need to be proactive about forging positive relationships with iwi, farmers, local communities, and public bodies.

It’s a big ask, but we think climbers have a brilliant, vibrant community that has a lot to offer. By becoming more proactive and putting in sustained effort, ACAT can give back to the places and communities that host our adventures and ensure a warm welcome for climbers throughout Aotearoa.”

If you haven’t donated yet, please help ACAT to achieve sustainable funding and do more for climbers. Monthly or annual donations provide ACAT the most reliable form of funding so that it can plan ahead, and all donations are eligible for a 33% tax credit from the government. Join our supporters today via the donation form on this or any other page.