1 December 2022
Aotearoa New Zealand has been an integral part of the APEC Voices of the Future programme since its founding over 20 years ago. This year, CAPEs signed an MoU with the Voices of the Future Trust to continue their outstanding work that enables young people to take part in the APEC Youth Summit and attend the APEC CEO Summit alongside the annual APEC programme.
Four youth delegates were selected to attend the programme in Bangkok, Thailand:
- Mareikura Ikin, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Rārua, Ngai Te Rangi, and Ngāti Ranginui, Coordinator for Toiere, Māori Business network Te Tauihu
- Josh Ellwood, Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Global Studies majoring in Global Politics and Human Rights; specialising in Spanish with an area focus of Latin America, The University of Auckland
- Kaylen Hojdelewicz, Bachelor of Communication double majoring in Political Science and Public Relations, The University of Waikato
- Melanie Roundill, Master of Health Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington.
In addition, APEC Voices Alumni Tracy Han and Sophie Hanford joined the delegation as recipients of the June Mayne Gould Award presented as part of Aotearoa New Zealand’s host year in 2021.
Lee-Arna Nepia, Regional Business Analyst, Te Puni Kōkiri and Angela Davis, Director of Strategy for CAPEs supported the delegation on the trip.
Thailand were incredible hosts and arranged many informative and interactive visits to businesses, a university, and a launch event for a Google social enterprise. All aspects of the programme were centred around the APEC Thailand 2022 theme of Open, Connect, Balance. The programme offered our young people many opportunities to connect with others from around the Asia-Pacific and form deep connections that will likely last a lifetime.
Delegates are required to work collaboratively on a Youth Declaration. Josh Ellwood says “it was a privilege to be selected to work on the APEC Youth Declaration, which we personally handed to the Prime Minister of Thailand. This was a fascinating collaborative process, where I learnt how frustratingly incremental foreign diplomacy can be!”
Some of the key takeaways from this programme were:
- Economic growth must be intentionally inclusive and intentionally sustainable.
- Youth have a meaningful role to play, not just in the future but now.
- Virtual engagement is no substitute for in-person, in-country connections.
Aotearoa New Zealand’s Ambassador to Thailand, Jonathan Kings, Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister for Trade and Export Growth and Education New Zealand Chief Executive, Grant McPherson hosted the delegation at an international student alumni event held at Kai New Zealand in Bangkok. The event was a wonderful opportunity to meet many people who are strongly connected to us through their time spent studying here.
The delegation also highly valued the opportunity to meet the Aotearoa New Zealand ABAC team, Rachel Taulelei, Stephen Jacobi, Stephanie Honey, Malcolm Johns, and Anna Curzon and were inspired by a shared commitment to prioritising inclusion of indigenous people and values and action on climate change.
Meeting Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern who is so well regarded and admired among many of the youth delegates from across the APEC region for her leadership on inclusive growth and Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID response was a special moment and a highlight for many.
The closing ceremony of the APEC Voices of the Future programme involved cultural performances from delegates from every economy. It was a truly special experience to both share in other cultures and share a piece of Aotearoa New Zealand with them.
APEC Voices of the Future is a wonderful programme that offers many opportunities for both cultural and professional exchanges. We were fortunate to be hosted in Thailand and to be able to establish in-person connections after so many years of virtual interactions.