Having worked across the globe in Fiji, Hawaii, Australia, UK and Aotearoa in a diverse range of roles, Kirk likes to remind his children his “past abounds with intrigue and adventure”.
He cares deeply about empowerment, equity and engagement; his portfolio of commercial and learning focused-work operates at the intersection of today’s societal challenges and creative, innovative responses to them.
Most recently, Kirk led the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training initiative in Auckland.
His career has provided him with rich experiences across compulsory, non-compulsory and free choice learning sectors to draw on.
In 2014, Kirk completed an Education Leadership thesis by working with Tongan parents with children in primary schools – his central hypothesis being: “there is no such thing as a hard to reach audience, it’s about being relevant.
As evidence of his intrapreneurial nous, Kirk has led the development and implementation of a project-based learning curriculum as the vehicle for meaningful learner engagement for second chance learners.
He has championed a community and youth-curated outreach programme which won a New Zealand Museum Award for an outstanding new museum programme that contributes to best practice in the museum sector in Aotearoa New Zealand, and demonstrates community engagement, responsiveness and collaboration.
Inspired by the past; challenging the status quo; and the possibilities of the future, Kirk has headed projects which have led to meaningful learning and employment outcomes such as sending a team of trades trainees’ to Fiji to support the rebuild after Cyclone Winston.
He has also facilitated a courageous and gritty Youse Got Choices campaign targeting Māori and Pasifika communities which set out to shift attitudes about trades as a viable and worthwhile career pathway.
The First Foundation has been on Kirk’s radar for many years, and when the chance to work directly with First Foundation and support the positive and pro-active work the organisation does, he jumped at the opportunity.
Kirk is excited about this new chapter in his career, and working towards making Aotearoa just that little bit better for future generations.
“Poipoia te Kakano Kia puawai” – Nurture the seed and it will blossom.
Jacquie has been fortunate to have had strong mentors support her throughout her career which began in tourism and hospitality. These roles instilled a curiosity for continuous improvement and gave her a good foundation to develop people and process skills as well as an opportunity to travel and explore different cultures. Discovering that the world is a small place and we are all very similar no matter where we come from, communication goes beyond the spoken word.
Her mentors have always encouraged her to stretch and try something new which has resulted in her career moving to business development, sales and marketing, learning and organisational development while working from a variety of industries such as Corporate Express, Ernst Young, Manukau Institute of Technology, University of Auckland and ASB. These opportunities exposed her to different ways of working and developed her need for data driven decision making. Making process and systems work for people and not just compliance and reporting, results in everyone aligning with a common goal. Volunteering and empowering others has always been core to her values.
Born in Zimbabwe, Jacquie has lived in the United Kingdom and moved to New Zealand in 2002 where she was introduced to Māori world views which are a great foundation for people being the centre of business. Practices such as a mihi (introduction) at the beginning of each meeting, is great business practice in knowing who is there, why and what we need to achieve.
“Being given the opportunity to work at First Foundation is an amazing opportunity to work for an organisation that supports tomorrow’s leaders. It is a great privilege to be part of a journey that brings together industry, scholars and mentors and is a perfect alignment with my values. First Foundation offers opportunities for individuals to discuss the light within once the light has been discovered “Nothing can dim a light that shines within” Maya Angelou. “
Amanda is a University of Canterbury graduate, gaining a BA double major in Business and Japanese before a Post Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching.
Amanda has travelled extensively, with stints working in Canada, Japan, London and Sydney, before returning to settle in Auckland. Since returning Amanda has worked as Operations and Business Development Manager at ACCESS Technology, (Wellington and Sydney), and Sponsorship Manager for Major Events at Auckland City Council.
Having taken 18 months out of the workforce to be a full-time mum to 2 toddlers, Amanda had a chance to reflect on what she really wanted out of her next role.
“There are so many reasons why I enjoy working at First Foundation. First Foundation and its model are inspirational and visionary. It allows me to utilize my key skills and experience in a challenging and worthwhile role that makes a real difference. It impacts the lives of young people that really need and deserve it”.“
Isaac is New Zealand born. He has had a variety of work and voluntary experiences that include New Zealand’s top printing apprentice, studio production, leading various academic and mentoring programmes and voluntary work and events in the community.
He has extensive creative and people skills and always enjoys the opportunity to provide guidance and full wrap around support to young people.
His years of mentoring, student support and “on the ground” experience provides the appropriate knowledge to encourage our next generation of pioneers to reach their fullest potential.
“I am super privileged to be a part of the successful First Foundation team. I believe in the vision and the heart of the organisation. The scholarships that are offered by our scholarship partners are the most rewarding achievement to the successful applicants”.
Our Board of Trustees
First Foundation is a charitable trust which was incorporated in 1998. It is administered by a voluntary Board of Trustees as follows:
Rich was introduced to First Foundation while a manager at Spark, where he had the chance to mentor and provide work experience to scholars. He loves seeing young people grow into strong leaders with the ability to give back to their communities.
Rich’s own journey shows the power of education to propel a career. After leaving school at 16 to start an apprenticeship, he quickly decided to enrol at university. A one-year study break turned into a four-year honours degree, followed by a long career in the business sector.
Rich believes that, by partnering with First Foundation, businesses can access talented young people with skills to make a difference at the future leadership table, helping organisations appeal to different cultures and customer demographics.
Michael’s advice to any business thinking about partnering with First Foundation: come along to an awards ceremony, where you’ll see first-hand that you’ll get far more out of it than you can ever imagine.
It was at a similar event around five years ago that Michael, a partner at Chapman Tripp, was inspired to encourage the commercial law firm to become a scholarship partner.
Like many First Foundation scholars, Michael’s mum was the first in her family to go to university. Although she had the whole community behind her, it was still a big leap. That contrasted with Michael’s own experience years later, because his parents had been before him and most of his peers were heading to university too.
He believes education is a great leveler, and the commitment and passion of First Foundation and its supporters is helping make education accessible to more New Zealanders.
Agnes understands education, having spent most of her working life in the sector.
A common thread running through her career is service, with a focus on levelling the playing field for young New Zealanders and improving their access to opportunities.
Agnes values the First Foundation model for connecting with rangatahi early in their journey. In particular, she says the value of a mentor can’t be underestimated as their support creates enduring change with intergenerational impact. She believes a mentor’s job is to listen and offer guidance from a place of appreciating the scholar’s experience.
Ko Rāhiri te māunga. Ko Hokianga Whakapau Karakia te moana. Ko Ngā Toki Matawhaorua te waka. Ko Ngapuhi tōku iwi. Ko Waimamaku tōku hapu. Ko Whakamaharatanga tōku marae. Ko Arkinihi Naera tōku ingoa.
As a former First Foundation scholar, Tau brings valuable insights to the board.
After being awarded his scholarship in 2009, he followed his dream of becoming an architect. This qualification has helped him relieve financial stress from his family, inspire younger students to follow their dreams, and set up MAU Studio – a design practice focused on creating regenerating environments that enhance well-being and contribute to a more equitable world.
Raised in South Auckland and of Samoan descent, Tau describes his graduation as a family event made possible by his parent’s sacrifice for him. Being able to share his achievements with them is one of his proudest moments.
Tau believes a sustainable future for business requires an organisational culture that values youth development in Aotearoa and is committed to supporting our rangatahi into these businesses.
A first-generation Samoan immigrant, Loretta came to Aotearoa when she was 11.
Her Mum was a teacher who believed that education is the great equalizer and Loretta’s ticket to the world, so she made the huge sacrifice to send her daughter to New Zealand to attend school. Loretta remembers her mum’s parting words to her words: “You’re my shooting star, I’m sending you off into the world to make a difference.” It’s that sacrifice that has given Loretta her drive to achieve.
Receiving scholarships to attend university means that Lorretta recognises herself in First Foundation scholars and believes that success has a great deal more to do with the individual than the decile of the school they attend. A huge part of success requires a good support network around them – something the programme provides. Representation matters to Loretta and she sees that First Foundation forges pathways for diversity in the workforce that is creating a generational shift.
Sarah knows first-hand the value that partnerships can offer to businesses, having developed a relationship with First Foundation through her roles at Chapman Tripp and Warren & Mahoney.
Supporting diversity through the First Foundation programme helps keep organisations relevant and connected to the future face of Aotearoa New Zealand, she says.
The ‘hand up, not hand out’ approach of the First Foundation programme really resonates with Sarah, who believes the three pillars of mentoring, financial support, and work experience are vital to set students up with the best possible opportunity for success in their chosen fields.
She is a huge advocate for the value of skills learnt outside the classroom too. Her involvement at her marae in school sports, kapa haka and other groups has shaped the leadership and interpersonal skills that have been immensely useful in her work in the public sector.
Mona-Pauline believes the wrap-around support First Foundation scholars receive, including help with financial literacy, is key to their success. At the same time, she says supporting First Foundation is beneficial for businesses, giving them access to rising stars in Aotearoa’s future workforce.
He uri au nō Ngāti Marutuahu, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata, Ngāi Tahu, Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Apa ki te rā tō, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangitāne. He tātai whakapapa hoki ōku ki ngā whenua o Sweden, Scotland, France me Spain.
Cherie, of Samoan heritage, has lived in Fiji, New Caledonia and Australia. This grounding has given her an appreciation for different cultures and an understanding of what it takes to build strong relationships and networks in new places.
After starting a Bachelor of Science, Aviation took her interest so she studied and trained as a Commercial Pilot. Since then, her career has taken her from telcos to tech allowing her to bring executive experience, commercial acumen and her South Island networks to the board table. Cherie believes that the benefits to a business participating in the First Foundation programme allows for companies to see the real outcome of the contribution they’ve made – both to the individual and by developing the culture and capability needed in Aotearoa.