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New Zealand leaders at APEC

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will chair the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in 2021. In her role as Prime Minister, she has attended APEC Leaders’ Meetings in Viet Nam (2017), Papua New Guinea (2018) and virtually in 2020.

Ms Ardern, who was recently elected to her second term as Prime Minister, first entered New Zealand’s Parliament in 2008. Over her 12 years as a representative she has been a strong advocate for children, women, and the right of every New Zealander to have meaningful work.

As well as Prime Minister, she holds the roles of Minister for National Security and Intelligence, and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, an issue particularly close to her heart. She is also the Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta
Minister for Foreign Affairs

As New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta will chair the APEC Ministerial Meeting in November 2021. In the 2020 Labour Government, Ms Mahuta became the first woman to hold the New Zealand Foreign Affairs portfolio. She is also Minister of Local Government, and Associate Minister for Māori Development.

Ms Mahuta is a tribal member of Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Manu. During the Minister’s 20-plus years in Parliament, she has supported policies and initiatives that built the capacity of communities, especially social service organisations, greater investment in education, employment and training opportunities for young people. Her parliamentary experience has enabled her to contribute to the collective aspirations of Māori and all New Zealanders.

Hon Damien O'Connor
Minister for Trade and Export Growth

As New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister, Damien O’Connor will chair the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in 2021. Mr O’Connor’s background in farming and adventure tourism drives his view that well-paid, sustainable jobs and industry growth are needed to improve everyone’s future. He is a passionate advocate for rural communities and for a thriving agricultural sector.

Mr O’Connor was first elected to Parliament in 1993 and in the 2020 Labour Government, was appointed Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister for Land Information, and Minister for Rural Communities.

Andrea Smith
APEC New Zealand Deputy Secretary

As Deputy Secretary of APEC New Zealand in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Andrea Smith is responsible for leading the all-of-government team that will deliver New Zealand’s APEC host year in 2021.

Prior to this role, she was Deputy Secretary for the Ministry’s Americas and Asia Group for five years, leading the management of New Zealand’s relationships with all the countries of Asia and North and South America. Ms Smith served as Ambassador to Turkey, Israel and Jordan and as Representative to the Palestinian Authority (2009 to 2011). She was also Director of the Ministry’s Pacific Division (2011-12) and was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as a Foreign Policy Advisor to then Prime Minister Helen Clark (2006-08).

Follow Andrea Smith on Twitter: @andreamfat

Senior Officials' Meeting chair Vangelis Vitalis
Vangelis Vitalis
Senior Officials' Meeting chair

Vangelis Vitalis is the APEC 2021 Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Chair for New Zealand’s host year. The SOM Chair is appointed by the host economy to facilitate the APEC policy agenda and coordinate the work of the Senior Officials. As hosts in 2021, New Zealand will chair the APEC Senior Officials Meetings.

Mr Vitalis is also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Deputy Secretary, Trade and Economic. He is an experienced negotiator, currently holding the role of Chief Negotiator for the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. Previously, he was the Chief Negotiator who concluded the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and, before that, in 2007-9 led the conclusion of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) and the Malaysia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (MNZFTA).

Prior to joining the Ministry, Mr Vitalis was New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva. He has also been the Ambassador to the European Union and NATO in Brussels and had postings to Canberra and Moscow.

Follow Vangelis Vitalis on Twitter: @VangelisVNZ