Rugby legend David Kirk has been welcomed into Te Aho Tāmaka at an official ceremony at the Rugby and Sport Institute on Friday evening. Kirk, who famously led the All Blacks to the first World Cup victory in 1987, developed his passion for the sport playing for the Manawatū Primary rep team and sitting on the banks of the Manawatū Showgrounds watching Manawatū win the Ranfurly Shield.

This connection to Palmerston North city and Manawatū throughout his successful career in both rugby and as a high achieving business leader, sees Kirk join 12 others in the prestigious Manawatū Leaders programme including Dr Farah Palmer, Hon. Steve Maharey, and Sir Brian Elwood among others.

Te Aho Tāmaka is a Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) led initiative and is the first of its kind in New Zealand. It celebrates accomplished leaders who are recognised for making a difference in New Zealand and globally, are proud of their connection to Manawatū and are creating a legacy through their work. “We are absolutely thrilled that David has accepted the invitation to be part of Te Aho Tāmaka,” said Linda Stewart, CEDA’s Chief Executive Officer, as she welcomed Kirk to the fold.

“Not only is David a rugby hero, but he went on to become a Rhodes Scholar, conquered the business world as CEO of Fairfax Media before co-founding Bailador Technology Investments, an investment fund targeting private expansion stage information technology companies. David also provides leadership to non-profit boards such as the Lord Howe Island Board and recently he has been honoured to take up the role of Patron of the New Zealand Rugby Museum located here in Palmerston North,” Stewart elaborates.

Kirk looks forward to being able to give back to the region that was once his home.

“Manawatū holds a strong connection for me. I grew up in Palmerston North, it was my first real home. Manawatū was the first province I represented in rugby, playing for the Manawatū Primary School Reps. I spent long summer holidays working, playing cricket, and relaxing with friends in Manawatū, right through my school and university years. My parents still live in Palmerston North and I feel strongly connected to the region,” said David Kirk proudly.

Te Aho Tāmaka was established in 2018 and now includes 13 highly accomplished leaders across diverse fields of business, sport, the Arts, the public sector, theology, and academia.