Kirk Sargent

Chief Executive Officer

“Ko Taranaki te māunga 

Ko Waitara te awa

Ko Oriental te waka

Ko Aotearoa tōku iwi

Ko Kirk Sargent tōku ingoa.”

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”. Passionate about this country, Kirk has committed much of his working life to learning as the vehicle for championing Aotearoa as a bright and vibrant place to live and work in the decades to come.

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.