Speech at APEC 21 Opening Pōwhiri

Foreign Affairs

9am, Tuesday 1 December

Te Whare Waka o Pōneke, Wellington Central

He Mihi

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Opening comments

I, along with my fellow ministerial colleagues, am pleased to be here today as we symbolically welcome representatives of APEC member economies to Aotearoa New Zealand’s host year.

I want to also take this opportunity to acknowledge mana whenua, Te Atiawa Iwi who have warmly welcomed us,

Local representatives of APEC economies ; Deputy Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Papua New Guinea High Commissioner, His Excellency Brigadier General Francis Agwi, speaking on behalf of economy representatives at this pōwhiri; Māori business and peak body representatives; and non-government organisations

Through Malaysian High Commissioner, Your Excellency Ms Nur Izzah Wong Mee Choo (Noor Iz-ZAH WONG May Chew), I take this opportunity to congratulate Malaysia on successfully concluding its host year – despite significant disruptions – with agreement to the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040.

It is significant to note that around 700 years ago, our ocean navigating Māori ancestors or tūpuna traversed the vast Pacific Ocean, using the signs they observed in the stars and ocean currents to travel south to ultimately arrive here in Aotearoa. I hazard a guess that they would have stopped off at many of your homelands across the Pacific along the way to rest, recuperate and re-stock supplies for the long journey ahead.

So as we welcome you here today, we acknowledge the ancestral connections we share and welcome you as whānau, as family. Whare Waka - the dwelling place of canoes - is an appropriate venue for such a welcome.

New Zealand’s Host Year

We would like our host year to be as engaging as it possibly can be. We seek to promote trade and economic growth that is inclusive, especially as it relates to women and indigenous peoples, to ensure APEC makes full use of the untapped economic potential of these and a number of other groups. We will also focus on sustainability, not only in response to environmental realities such as climate change, but also to facilitate a green economic recovery from COVID-19.

Although the scope and scale of the task ahead is unchartered territory, we are up for the challenge and I am confident we have the necessary provisions in place to engage effectively with our APEC colleagues and deliver a successful virtual host year, building on the success of our Malaysian colleagues in 2020.

APEC New Zealand Officials are working in partnership with the local tangata whenua, Te Atiawa Iwi, to ensure that we maintain our Māori cultural integrity in the way that we welcome, host and farewell our manuwhiri, our guests.

As you may well recognise these are challenging and uncertain times. A global pandemic has cause us to be caught in the same storm and while we are experiencing the impact of this storm very differently collectively we know we must get through the other side.

Responding to COVID-19 will be top of mind for New Zealand, and we will be looking to use a number of mechanisms to facilitate an effective, long-lasting economic response to the crisis as we set out a “new normal” approach to support our resilience.

Following the biggest economic shock in 90 years, we will focus on rebuilding confidence in the multilateral trading system. An effective, functioning and rules-based multilateral trading system, with the World Trade Organisation at its centre, underpins APEC’s work to support our economies to grow together and be cognisant of the challenge before us. Promoting indigenous collaboration to broaden the diversity of our approach, and the consequent benefits to women and young people is also important.

Māori Economic Growth and APEC

As I reflect on New Zealand’s last hosting of APEC in 1999, I am heartened by the progress we have made since then. In 1999, Māori were largely invisible in New Zealand’s hosting and were mostly reduced to ceremonial and cultural roles. However, we are determined that for APEC21, Māori will play a more prominent and meaningful role in New Zealand’s hosting. I anticipate this approach may assist broader opportunities for indigenous peoples and economies to connect in more meaningful ways.

Over the last twenty years the Māori economy and asset base has grown exponentially enhanced further by Treaty Settlements, which have provided an economic base for our people. Today, the Māori economy is valued at around $50 billion and represents six per cent of New Zealand’s total asset base. The Māori economy includes a range of authorities, businesses, and SME employers who self-identify as Māori.

From 2010 to 2018, Māori enterprises have increased in number by over 30 percent and employee count by 50 percent. However, the general consensus is that further diversification of the Māori asset base is required to ensure resilience in the long-term.  We are starting to see this across the Māori economy with Māori businesses branching out into new investment areas including geothermal, digital, education, and housing.

With the Māori economy in such a solid position, we have an excellent opportunity to diversify the benefits our trade policy and within APEC over the next twenty years.

However I acknowledge that indigenous recognition can be a sensitive subject and that the New Zealand experience is not uniformly replicated across the Asia-Pacific. We are willing to share our experience and offer support to assist economies to enable the greater participation of indigenous communities in trade and economic activity, including through APEC. Economic inclusion such as this approach will contribute to greater equity and opportunity for indigenous peoples and can contribute to greater social cohesion and stability in our region..

Join, Work, Grow. Together

As we move ahead together, we will need to Join, Work and Grow, Together – this can be reflected in the Māori kīanga or saying “Haumi ē, hui ē, tāiki ē”. These words speak to APEC’s greatest strength: providing a space for its 21 economies to join together, and work collaboratively towards our collective future growth.

For you, our locally-based APEC economy representatives, the virtual nature of our host year will mean that you will play an even more important connecting role between New Zealand officials and your home agencies.

For our New Zealand Government officials, you have an enormous task ahead as you work to prepare proposals, meeting papers, statements, projects and events during New Zealand’s host year, all while ensuring a strong New Zealand sense of manaakitanga, hospitality.

For tangata whenua, Te Atiawa Iwi, and our Māori organisation partners, you are our Treaty partner and represent Māori cultural and economic interests in APEC and what we strive to achieve across these economies.

Closing comments

Finally let me draw upon the wisdom of my ancestor Tāwhio who said;

Ki te kotahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kapuia e kore e whati.

"When a reed stands alone it can be easily broken, but bound in unison it stands firm, joined together, and is unbreakable!"

That is the intent of APEC 21 that we Join, Work and Grow Together.

No reira, Turuturu Whakawhitia mau a kia tina! Haumi e, hui e, tāiki e! Tēnā koutou. Tēnā koutou. Tēnā tātou katoa!