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Sarah Hirini on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)
Sarah Hirini on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)

PartnersFebruary 29, 2024

Sarah Hirini on reflective leadership

Sarah Hirini on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)
Sarah Hirini on This is Kiwi (Image: Supplied)

In the final episode of season two of Kiwibank’s This is Kiwi podcast, Sevens captain Sarah Hirini talks about growing into her leadership role.

This is Kiwi is brought to you by Kiwibank and The Spinoff Podcast network. Subscribe and download This is Kiwi wherever you get your podcasts.

With nearly a decade as the captain of the champion New Zealand Sevens team under her belt, Sarah Hirini is one of the faces of the sport in New Zealand and around the world. 

Recorded prior to her current injury, Hirini speaks on This is Kiwi about her unique leadership style, which she says is grounded in good communication – something she’s learnt from watching other successful leaders over her lifetime.

“There’ve been so many people that have helped me, that are different to the way that I lead, and I listen to how they speak to different personalities that I might find hard to communicate with. And I’m like, ‘OK, that’s how you’re gonna get the best out of that player’.”

Getting the best out of herself was always the aim for Hirini, who says she didn’t start out with the aim to be a leader in her sport.

“I just wanted to be the best rugby player that I could be, so it wasn’t too much about wanting to lead. I thought if I can just try and do what I could, then hopefully that would help the team win,” she says.

Sarah Hirini at the 2023 Halberg Awards after being awarded the Sport NZ Leadership Award (Image: Getty)

Hirini knows that her job as a leader and role model to many doesn’t stop when she leaves the field, so she has been outspoken about her passion for financial literacy which in turn can empower equality, working with Kiwibank as Whatu Kōkiri Kiwibank Impact Champion to further spread her message of “want more, aspire higher”.

“Some of [the other] girls are having different contract negotiations and quite a few have asked what I’m on [getting paid] and I’ll openly talk about it. Because for me, it’s not about hiding what I’m on.”

Growing up on a farm, Hirini says she had to work hard as a kid, and learnt the value of money early on as her family spoke about the role money played in their lives quite openly. Hirini spent her first paychecks on “new shiny things” but realised this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable if she wanted to have savings – so she made some changes and was able to co-own a house with her sister at a relatively young age.  

“Talking about money with my family has given me the opportunity to make my own money decisions, it’s probably shown me better decisions and opportunities that are out there,” she says.

Despite her career path bringing its fair share of challenges, Hirini says she’s privileged to get the chance to do what she loves for a living, and hopes to inspire others to do the same with their dreams.

“There’s gonna be some pretty challenging times, but I just love playing rugby. That’s why I started playing and why I wanted to do what I do, and it gives me the drive to want to continue to train hard, to be a good leader, to want our team to be successful, because I know I’m doing something that I love every single day.”

This episode was recorded in November, 2023. The final episode of season two of This is Kiwi is out now. Subscribe and download wherever you get your podcasts.

This content was produced in paid partnership with Kiwibank.

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