Dr David Kirk MBE
“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.”
David Kirk moved to Palmerston North as a three-year-old and attended Russell Street Primary School. It was from there he represented the Manawatū Primary School Reps in the annual tournament in Rongotea against Wanganui, Wairarapa and Horowhenua. He proudly remembers a Manawatū win in the final match.
David’s teenage years coincided with the great Manawatū Ranfurly Shield era. He sat on the gravelly embankments of the Manawatū Showgrounds in all weathers to watch Manawatū defend the Ranfurly Shield 13 times. He trooped home miserable when they eventually lost it.
David studied medicine in Dunedin at Otago University and returned home every summer. He worked in a variety of jobs on farms, gardening at Massey University and in the Kiwi Bacon factory at Longburn to earn money for the next year at university. He played cricket for Freyberg Old Boys and represented Central Districts in age-group cricket tournaments.
His rugby career flourished in the early 1980s and he represented Otago from 1982 to 1984 and Auckland from 1985 to 1987. David first played for the All Blacks in 1983. He was one of just two players who refused to join the 1986 Cavaliers tour of South Africa. And in 1987 David captained the All Blacks in the first World Cup, leading them to an unforgettable victory, an iconic moment in New Zealand rugby history.
Retiring from rugby soon after the World Cup, David moved to Oxford in England to take up a Rhodes Scholarship. He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics and then worked for McKinsey & Co. in London for three years. This was followed by a period working in politics back in New Zealand as Executive Assistant and then Chief Policy Advisor to then Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jim Bolger.
David then moved into the corporate world and on to Sydney as part of a role with Fletcher Challenge. In 2005 David became CEO of the iconic trans-Tasman media company, Fairfax Media, staying until 2008. He then went on to co-found Bailador Technology Investments (BTI) where he is Chairman and Managing Partner today. Bailador Technogy Investments is an investment fund targeting private expansion stage information technology companies.
David is also Chairman of New Zealand listed company Kathmandu and of Forsyth Barr and a number of BTI investee companies. In the not-for-profit space David is chair of New Zealand food rescue social ventures KiwiHarvest and the New Zealand Food Network and has been the chair of the NZ Rugby Players Association for nearly 20 years. In Australia he also chairs the Sydney Festival and is a director of the Lord Howe Island board. Recently, in a role he is honoured to take up, he has become the Patron of the NZ Rugby Museum located in Palmerston North.