A past delegate’s experience 

Shay Wright, Head of Maori Development at the Icehouse


What did the APEC experience mean to you?

It’s been seven years since I attended the International APEC Summit in Australia.  And it was probably one of the biggest learning adventures of my life. I was exposed to so many new conversations and experiences that it literally defined a ‘new normal’ for me. 


In just one short week at APEC I understood the role of trade and foreign relations. I developed connections to aspiring and current leaders.  And I began to comprehend the absolute enormity of the world’s challenges and issues. 


I was exposed to a whole range of new words like ‘trade proliferation’, ‘multilateral agreements’ and ‘Doha round’.  I found out what cologne was, and what tequila was. I was there when the Free Trade Agreement with China was signed. Until that point I’d never thought as deeply about how we solve the global issues and the issues that the Pacific Rim faces.  My mind was awakened. 


So what have you done since?

Ever since then trade, international affairs and global issues have shaped a lot of the things I have sunk my teeth into. Having gained a basic understanding at APEC, I have learned how these concepts apply on the ground working with business owners to grow their businesses internationally. 


I have been a member of the Advisory Board of the NZ-US Council and in 2013 was fortunate enough to attend the bi-annual NZ-US Partnership Forum in Washington D.C. where another Pacific Trade Agreement was the centre of attention: the Trans Pacific Partnership.  

I must say that having the exposure to APEC has made me wary of the huge amounts of resource that countries pour into trade and diplomacy and I’m still figuring out how beneficial it is.  But it is only through the experience that we will truly comprehend it. 


Would you recommend APEC Voices?

There are few events that have had as much impact on me as the APEC Summit. Important things are talked about.  Some of them are advanced. Going in hungry will mean you get so much out of the experience.  I can’t speak of it highly enough and thank the organisers for allowing me to participate.