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From all of us, in Aotearoa New Zealand: The gifts of APEC 2021

The gifts for APEC Leaders will be announced after their retreat overnight Friday.

Strong connections are important to us, here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

So, as APEC host, presenting gifts to those participating in our most important events has been another way for us to express the value of these connections.

It doesn’t matter that participants were virtual visitors to our land this time. We simply wanted to thank people for their contributions, show our respect, and extend manaakitanga to our guests. Manaakitanga is the Māori concept of showing generosity and hospitality.

The person chairing each meeting made the final selection of each gift, or koha. They looked for things showing a unique aspect of New Zealand that would be treasured by the recipients. And it needed to fit with APEC’s theme for the year – Join, Work, Grow / Hāumi ē, hui ē, tāiki ē.

Each meeting had a different gift. Here’s the stories behind them.

Manaaki box

For those attending the Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting

This was one of our first meetings, and the Chair – diplomat and trade negotiator Vangelis Vitalis – wanted to extend a warm welcome to participants by giving them a manaaki box. In Māori, manaaki means hospitality, care, or support. Tucked in a beautiful APEC gift box was an APEC-branded reusable cup made by Joco, along with organic Zealong Tea, Whittakers chocolate and Mt Atkinson’s fair trade coffee. With the APEC region covering 11 time zones, some meetings were at unsocial hours and this gift acknowledged the effort that many made to attend – sometimes late at night, or very, very early in the morning.

Virtual koha (gift)

Extended to attendees of the Indigenous to Indigenous Dialogue

Symbolising a dart, a teka, this virtual koha was created by Māori carver and tā moko (traditional tattoo) artist Lance Ngata. A teka has a significant role in traditional Māori welcome ceremonies. Laid on the ground in front of visitors as a challenge, once it is picked up, it becomes a taonga, a treasure. Recipients can download and carry the teka, or print it as a tangible memory of the Dialogue, which laid down the challenge of creating change for communities by embracing diversity and indigeneity.

Carved wooden waka 

For participants of the Structural Reform Ministers’ Meeting 

A waka (canoe) crafted from kauri timber and paua shell was the gift chosen by the meeting Chair, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, David Clark. Made by the craftspeople at Aeon Giftware, this miniature waka symbolises the teamwork and collaboration needed to achieve a common goal. In traditional Māori communities, everyone had a role in helping to create the waka.

Woollen messenger bag

Given to participants of the Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting

Swandri created the practical gift selected by the Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor for this meeting that covered the pandemic’s impact on food production. The messenger bag was crafted from products made from sustainable, druable, 100% New Zealand-grown wool.

Woollen Laptop Sleeve

Food Security Ministers’ Meeting

Honest Wolf is a small, unique family-owned business, crafting products made with New Zealand wool. Sustainably sourced from their Papanui Farm in the North Island and stitched alongside a high-quality New Zealand leather, these laptop sleeves showcase innovation in farming sustainably and finding alternative uses for excess wool.

Miromiro feathers necklace/cufflinks

Presented to those attending the Women and the Economy Forum

In Māori mythology, the bird miromiro, New Zealand tomtit, is seen as a bearer of good news. This gift, designed by Boh Runga was a considered choice by Minister for Women, Jan Tinetti, for the forum guests who gathered to work together and deliver messages of positive results from around Asia-Pacific.

Leather cardholder

Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting

Combining fashion and agriculture, a leather cardholder was the beautiful and practical gift chosen by the Chair, Minister of Small Business, Stuart Nash. This environmentally sustainable gift was made from premium South Island deer nappa – a by-product of the venison industry – by Yu Mei, itself a small to medium-size enterprise.

Native timber serving bowl

Finance Ministers’ Meeting

Handcarved from prized swamp kauri, this gift is a beautiful expression of the skill of New Zealand artists and the manaakitanga of the Chair, Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson, towards the meeting guests. The bowls were created by expert woodcarvers at Kauri Vault using traditional techniques and a contemporary aesthetic.

Stand of trees planted in Shakespear Regional Park

To mark APEC’s Leaders’ Week 2021

After a successful year of joining and working together virtually, we wanted to create a physical symbol of growth and collaboration. We have planted 250 indigenous trees in a park in the northern area of Auckland to represent all the Leaders, Ministers, officials and delegates who have contributed to the success of APEC 2021. We hope they can each travel to New Zealand to see this stand of trees for themselves one day in the future.

Pounamu pendant

Presented to the 21 leaders of the APEC economies

This gift is very symbolic and significant. The pendant is carved from precious pounamu (jade/greenstone) by Waewae Pounamu of Ngai Tahu tribe, to depict a traditional koru shape. Koru means ‘curl’ – a shape that, to Māori, represents the new life, growth and rejuvenation of an unfurling fern frond.

Wooden toki (necklace) in a wooden gift Box

For those attending the Concluding Senior Officials’ Meeting

The toki is a traditional symbol of strength, courage and determination – a reflection of the work we have achieved together this year. The taaniko (woven) design of the toki represents everyone who has joined together this year to work towards a common purpose. The gift box was made from wood from the indigenous rimu tree. The woven design further illustrates the Māori concept of whiria te tangata – the weaving together of people and the strength that comes from working together.

Pounamu pendant 

Presented to ministers involved in the APEC Ministerial Meeting

Carved from the highly prized and spiritual stone pounamu (jade/greenstone) at Te Puia, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, this pendant depicts the shape of a hei matau, a fishing hook, to represent prosperity, sustenance, and our environment. Fishing is important to Māori as a food source, and the hei matau is also a talisman for safe passage across waters. This gift acknowledges that although we are separated by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, our discussions continue to help sustain the peoples of the APEC region, as well as our environment for the benefit of future generations.

Join, Work, Grow. Together.
Haumi ē, Hui ē, Tāiki ē.