Te Araroa Trust and strategy


Our people

Executive Director

Matt Claridge 

Matt has worked in sport, recreation and public safety roles with experience across not for profit and private/public partnerships. Previous roles include CEO of organisations such as Water Safety New Zealand, The Tomorrow Project and General Manager at Nuku Ora (Sport Wellington).

Contact Matt




Trail Manager

Dan Radford 

Dan has worked primarily in conservation and recreation management on public land for agencies like The Department of Conservation and The United States Forest Service.  Having walked Te Araroa in full in 2015/16, he is passionate about Te Araroa, it’s development, and the work of the Trust to ensure the same (or better) experience is available to others. 


Founder & Patron

Geoff Chapple

In 1994, journalist/author/musician/playwright Geoff Chapple proposed a walking trail to run the length of New Zealand. This suggestion was not new. Before, people had discarded it as unachievable. Geoff and a group of willing people who shared the vision formed the Te Araroa Trust shortly after. They set about raising publicity, and funds, for the concept.

Geoff saw his dream realised in 2011 when Te Araroa officially opened.

Geoff stood down as CEO of Te Araroa Trust in 2012 and received an ONZM in recognition of his achievements.

Read more of Geoff's early Te Araroa adventures

Te Araroa Trustees

John Birch (Chair)

John, an engineer and professional director, became intrigued by Te Araroa after reading Geoff Chapple’s narrative of that first journey. He finally walked Te Araroa in its entirety during the summer of 2020/21.  During and after that walk John realised the enormous effort required to ensure the trail continued to develop and remain viable and iconic despite the pressure of increasing walker numbers.  He joined the Te Araroa Waikato trust in 2021 and the national trust in 2022.  John was appointed Chair in late 2023 and is a passionate promoter of the whakahou/regenerative strategic direction.

Trevor Butler (Deputy Chair)

Trevor has been a Te Araroa Trustee since 2006 and is the current deputy chair. He convenes the Trust’s Operations Committee. He is a Chartered Professional Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ. He has a strong interest in sustainability and community development, and recreational development projects that help regional employment.

Lorraine Thomson

Lorraine is an independent director of a technology company and a research institute.  She is a member of the Institute of Directors, an ArcAngel investor and a member of Global Women.  She published and edited New Zealand Fitness and Travel Digest. She wrote her first book The French Way, trekking the 40-day El Camino de Santiago.  As well as walking this 800km iconic pathway in Europe, Lorraine has run marathons and tracked and cycled other long trails.  She holds the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Gold Award for Travel Journalism.

Celia Wade-Brown

Celia was the mayor of Wellington between 2010 and 2016.  She held many roles with the Wellington City Council, Wellington International Airport and Walk21. She was the president of Living Streets Aotearoa for 7 years.  Celia has first-hand experience of Te Araroa, having walked the full length of the trail.

Jan Sedgwick

Jan Sedgwick is a communications professional. She has more than 35 years experience in media, marketing and public relations. She was made a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of NZ in recognition of her long-term contribution to the industry. Jan is a councillor on the Waikato District Council. As a senior councillor, she holds many portfolios both within the council and the wider community. She is also an advisor to the Dept of Corrections panel. Jan's skills include clarity in communications, financial acumen, effective governance and risk analysis and management. 

Elena Kim

Elena is a senior corporate and transactional lawyer practising in Tāmaki Makaurau. Elena has extensive experience in the not for profit governance and strategy space. Elena also regularly represents New Zealand as a legal expert and also as a leader in not for profit governance on a number of international speaking engagements, including across Europe and the Asia-Pacific. 

She is the first New Zealander to be named an International Bar Association scholar and has been named Excellence Awardee for Young Private Practice Lawyer of the Year numerous times, is named in the NZ Lawyer Elite Women report for her influence and leadership in the legal profession, and is the only private practice lawyer to be named a finalist in the INFINZ Emerging Leader Awards.

Elena has a special relationship with Te Araroa, having discovered many adventures on many of its sections through her trail runs across Aotearoa. As an ultrarunner who competes in 100km and 100 mile races, Te Araroa has given Elena many opportunities to train across extra-long distances, across some of the most spectacular terrain in Aotearoa. Working to achieve a sustainable and bright future for Te Araroa is an integral part of Elena’s vision for the Trust, so that others can enjoy this iconic and special trail for many years to come. 

John Stroud

John Stroud, an IT Account Executive specializing in schools, dedicated to bringing cutting-edge technology to educational institutions. But John is more than his professional role; he's a Scout Leader shaping the future of young adventurers. As a member of the Te Araroa Manawatu Trust, he actively contributes to improving the regional trail. With over four decades of passionate tramping, he's a living encyclopaedia of our stunning landscapes. John is also a hunter and conservationist, fiercely committed to preserving the delicate balance between enjoying and protecting the wilderness. He has also served as a trail angel for Te Araroa, extending his support to fellow hikers on their remarkable journeys.

Henry Marchant

Henry is an avid Te Araroa enthusiast, completing the trail in the 2019-20 summer while fundraising for the Stroke Foundation New Zealand. He's an experienced Project Manager in the construction industry, notably working on the Taranaki Crossing project for the Department of Conservation (DOC). Beyond his professional role, he's a senior rugby player at Stratford Eltham Rugby Club and oversees the family dairy farm with his brother.

Te Araroa Strategic Plan

Te Araroa Trust’s strategic plan identifies five focus areas.

  • facilitating a high-quality experience for walkers
  • improving trail infrastructure
  • strengthening relationships with stakeholders
  • clearly communicating trail information to walkers, and
  • securing the sustainability of the trail and the Trust through partnerships and new funding streams.

Te Araroa Trust 2019-2022 strategic plan

Page last updated: Oct 26, 2023, 1:34 PM