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VOICES 2016: Text

Lima, Peru is an extraordinary city with a vibrant culture, according to the four delegates who attended the Voices of the Future programme in 2016.

VOICES 2016: Image


Lima, Peru was an extraordinary city and a vibrant culture that over-exceeded expectations as a host for this year’s APEC Voices of the Future.  The focus of the conference - how youth community leaders can play a role to promote quality growth and human development, was an extremely fitting topic. In light of the current pace of change and the variety of challenges facing our world (global warming, surprise elections, population growth), it is so important now more than ever that youth are involved as community leaders. The forum provided a wonderful opportunity to network, discover and be inspired.


Undoubtedly this experience was unparalleled in anything we have previously been in attendance of. The APEC Voices of the Future was held in Lima, Peru from 14th - 20th November engaging over 120 youth leaders and their educators from 15 economies. The 2016 programme was full of exciting and unrivalled activities to enhance our experience of Peru as well as the interactive opportunities presented amongst some of the Asia-Pacific region’s top leaders and CEO’s. The highlights from throughout the summit included:

  • Getting a taste of the exquisite and vibrant Peruvian culture

  • APEC Voices of the Future opening dialogue at Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola

  • Interacting with the talented students at Escuela de Talentos

  • Dinner soiree with John Key and New Zealand CEOs

  • Experiencing the APEC CEO Summit and witnessing leaders address poignant issues

Peru welcomes the 15 APEC Voices of the Future delegate economies

Day one introduced the youth delegation to the topic of ‘Quality Growth and Human Development’ through a series of insightful presentations from leaders such as Mercedes Araoz Fernandez (second Vice President of Peru), Mayor Guerrero of San Marcos, Texas (the fastest growing city) as well as the APEC Voices of the Future Committee. This was a fantastic start to a day full of exciting and informative interactions. Each economy was given the opportunity to present their position on the summit topic as well as providing insight into the unique approach they have in addressing said topic. Te Puritanga presented on behalf of New Zealand and included both Spanish and Maori language into the presentation making for a delightful presentation. We all found this first day thought-provoking as it was our first opportunity to interact with the other delegates.

After a delicious traditional Peruvian lunch, we split into three groups to draft the Youth Declaration. This declaration follows along the lines of the well-known APEC Leader’s Declaration. This year the youth declaration focused on three key aspects - Regional Integration, Quality Growth, and Human Development. Being able to converse between youth from different backgrounds and incorporating their cultural and economic perspectives was extremely stimulating and resulted in fantastic deliberation. Courtney led the New Zealand team as the representative to draft the final declaration alongside the other youth leaders that evening with a thorough and innovative declaration constructed.

Enjoying the celebration from students at Escuela de Talentos

Day two was hosted and celebrated at the Escuela de Talentos, a secondary school based in the region of Callao. The ceremony started off with official speeches and presentations, followed by a cultural performance that was full of energy and colour. The students then took us on a tour of their school and invited us to join in on the learnings:

  • Robotics – the robotics workshops provide an opportunity for students to assemble and design complicated programmes, achievements that amazed all who entered the class;

  • Technology – many of the classrooms were absent of notebooks and whiteboards, having been replaced by mobile devices and touch technology. Facebook and blogs are encouraged as alternative methods of learning and interacting with both the staff and other students. Web design and editing technology are key projects involved in this class;

  • Music – we were introduced to the beat of Peru's traditional musical instrument, the cajón drum. Crafted from higuerilla wood and featuring a hole on one side, this class was definitely a favourite;

  • Dance – as a group we stepped and swung our hips, trying to keep to the beat. This class was great fun but under the hot sun, we became very aware of how unfit we were; and finally

  • History – we are briefed on the local and national history and culture and then quizzed on our learnings. The students incorporated humour and drama into the class which contributed to a creative and engaging atmosphere.

Overall the day was a lot of fun and we were truly blown away by the talent and hospitality of the students and staff of la Escuela de Talentos as well as realising the love that these students have for their right to an education, something a lot of New Zealand students take for granted.

Taking in the sights and sounds of Lima

On day three we were treated to the sights and sounds of Lima aboard a double decker bus. The weather could not have been any better as we toured around the districts surrounding Miraflores. The tour took us from cliffside traditional Peruvian villas to the financial district, where we saw buildings including the Peru Stock Exchange and Presidential Palace. We then visited the Convento de San Francisco, a beautiful church situated above catacombs which our guides took us below to explore. The catacombs were three stories deep and contained over 25,000 bodies, although it has only been possible to excavate the first level. The tour gave us a comprehensive look around Lima and also gave us an excellent chance to bond with our peers on the bus, singing and dancing to Spanish music as we cruised around the streets. It was fascinating to be able to compare New Zealand to Peru – the language, buildings, people and general way of life are so different amongst the two nations yet at the same time they share an abundance of great similarities. These informal occasions were when you really got to properly know people, the friends we made on this will be lifelong contacts.

APEC CEO Summit welcomes all

On Friday, we suited up at midday and departed for the Gran Teatro Nacional, the impressive conference centre where the APEC CEO Summit 2016 was held. Here, we were given exclusive access to the world's top CEO’s. We were also extremely privileged to attend the CEO summit and watch the speeches and presentations live. Christine Lagarde, the managing Director of the IMF, delivered a powerful address and insight on why the empowerment of women matters. Ms Largarde presented this view in compelling fashion, analysing the economic benefits of women empowerment and positive effects this would have worldwide. We had discussed this issue earlier at the Voices summit and agreed on the gender equality issues which need to be addressed worldwide.

Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister, then provided the summit with some very thought provoking remarks as he sat aboard a panel discussing innovation. This had also been noted earlier in the Voices program as a crucial aspect of the modern economy. Turnbull analysed the disadvantages of protectionism. He views protectionism unfavourably as our world is experiencing change, through innovation. Protectionism discourages growth, so when change leads to people’s careers becoming redundant, they will not be able to find employment in a flat or declining economy. This reinforces why free trade and the promotion of globalisation is crucial for the Asia Pacific region, supporting the discussions we had throughout the week with our peers.

Attending the CEO summit was incredible and gave us a real sense of the power which the world leaders and CEO’s hold. The speeches were inspiring, as we witnessed the world's best give their insights into topical and relevant issues which our economy faces.          

Hilton Meeting with NZ ABAC and APEC Delegation

On Friday night, MFAT picked us up from our hotel and took us to the Hilton Miraflores. Here we attended a reception and got to meet the ABAC New Zealand delegation and wider New Zealand CEO’s. The delegation included Prime Minister John Key, Trade Minister Todd McClay, NZIBF Executive Director Stephen Jacobi and Gallagher CEO Sir William Gallagher, alongside many other senior business officials and diplomats. The hour we had with the delegation was a once in a lifetime networking opportunity and hugely beneficial for our business careers. We spoke to a vast range of business people who all had very good insights and experience which they were more than happy to share with us. This experience was also very helpful in terms of developing our social skills as we learnt to communicate with top officials in a formal business setting, skills which will set us in good stead for future interviews and workplace scenarios. We also realised how incredibly lucky we were to get this opportunity as we spoke with the Voices delegates from other countries.

Haere rā Peru

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and there was no exception for the 2016 APEC Voices of the Future delegation. However, before our bags were zipped and our passports packed, we had a fantastic evening at the Cultural Night. This comprised of each economy presenting a 10 minute piece on their culture and encouraging the wider delegates to take part. The New Zealand piece portrayed the traditional Ka Mate haka and finished with a quick lesson on a pukana - with a photo of course! Our final night was a great evening to reminisce on the fun we all had over the past week as a well as exchanging business cards and planning our next trip to Peru!

We all walked through those first doors as individuals with an interest in the topics APEC explores, yet we came back out as friends, colleagues and above all, young leaders with a common passion and thirst for crafting a better tomorrow, together. Speaking on behalf of all in attendance at APEC Voices of the Future 2016, we had the most incredible experience and opportunity to explore Peru, meet undeniably talented and passionate youth as well as discuss the important issue of ‘Quality Growth and Human Development’ under a banner of the world’s greatest and influential leaders. We are all ecstatic to be hosting the 2021 APEC Voices of the Future summit and are looking forward to getting involved!


The members of the 2016 New Zealand APEC Voices of the Future Delegation would like to extend their sincere appreciation to everyone involved in making this year’s Youth Summit one to remember! From the educators who accompanied us to Peru - Lester Khoo and Michael O’Shaughnessy, to the administrators and organisers back in New Zealand - Catherine Wilson and John Randell as well as MFAT staff who facilitated us both on New Zealand soil and abroad. This whole experience would not have been possible without the extra lengths that the Peru and Singapore working committee went to and the extensive planning involved.

The delegation would also like to thank The Right Honourable Prime Minister John Key, ABAC members Stephen Jacobi and Katherine Rich, as well as the New Zealand business leaders and Rory McLeod who offered their valuable time and knowledge to discuss matters both within and beyond the APEC CEO Summit.

This whole experience would not have been possible without the outstanding support and sponsorship from AUT, Victoria University, Massey University and MFAT along with the support at the individual level. Thank you again to everyone who played a part in this incredible opportunity. All of us had such an enriching time and the positive experiences we were exposed to made us appreciate the wider Asia-Pacific economies in a different light.

VOICES 2016: List

Courtney Davies - Massey University

Representing both my country and tertiary institute at this prestigious level was something both exciting and full of potential. Knowing that we all had the platform to voice our ideas, opinions and unique approach to underlying issues was something quite special that I will cherish for a long time to come. I was able to understand that the topic of Quality Growth and Human Development does not only stem from a political and economic frontier but from the jigsaw-like pieces that compile these APEC nations. There are a wealth of diverse cultures throughout the Asia-Pacific region, all with a different story to tell and a special potential for the future in which we could explore amongst ourselves. As a science student, it is my passion and duty to take on the mantle of one of those puzzle pieces that mould the future for the younger generation. In addition, the continuous ability to interact and understand the other delegates emphasised the idea of global connection both in a technology and personal point of view. The empowerment exuded from these youth was phenomenal and inspired all of us to keep aiming for the top.

The opportunities I was exposed to within the realms of the 2016 APEC Voices of the Future summit certainly crafted and heightened my awareness for the affairs within the Asia-Pacific borders. From understanding the roles that education can occupy for young Peruvian children at Escuela de Talentos through to being the New Zealand delegate selected to draft the youth declaration and later making conversation with some of the country’s top leaders was a mind-blowing experience. Every day was a highlight as the nature of the experience allowed for each moment to be full of opportunity and interaction with something new around every corner. Not only being able to be in the same room as some of the most influential leaders and business people but then having the opportunity to converse with them and share experiences was something I would never have expected.

Above all, I would like to thank Massey University for making this opportunity available to our student population and selecting me to be the Massey University youth representative for 2016. Overall this has been such a beneficial experience both culturally and from an education perspective - opening my eyes to the endless possibilities of combining science with business, government, economics, and policy making. I am looking forward to the future as I am confident we are all in the safe hands of the youth we all had the privilege to meet at this year’s APEC Voices of the Future.

Tom Wylie - Victoria University of Wellington

The APEC Voices program was a life changing experience for me. The trip was highly beneficial from a commerce viewpoint yet also incredibly enriching in terms of developing my cultural awareness and social interactions.

I had the opportunity to speak one on one with Prime Minister John Key. The advice and personal insight he gave me regarding Accounting and Finance was invaluable and to have the opportunity to speak about this to our country’s leader was truly once in a lifetime. The chance to develop my communication skills and interact with senior executives was also very helpful and insightful. The amazing networking opportunities we were given and access to NZ’s top officials gave me an insight into what business is like at the highest level.

I believe the focus of APEC Voices on encouraging interaction within an informal environment was very useful for all of the youth delegates. By getting to know each other sightseeing and amongst the local community rather than in a formal setting, we developed a far broader understanding and appreciation of the differences between economies and also our similarities. I learnt not only my peer’s views on trade and their respective economy’s objectives but also gained insights into their daily lives. This allowed us all to bond very quickly and become close friends, establishing lasting professional and personal connections, throughout the APEC region.

The 2016 APEC Summit was particularly topical in light of the recent US election. The implications for the global economy with regards to trade are drastic and to be able to speak with my peers from around the globe regarding this was extremely helpful. The youth of the APEC region are strongly free trade orientated and open markets are a key focus as our generation recognises the benefits of open markets and free trade for all countries concerned.

I am incredibly grateful to Victoria University and the Commerce Faculty for providing me with the opportunity and support to represent Victoria and New Zealand on this trip. I endeavour to continue to do my very best and give back to my local community and peers in every way possible. My Lima experience has inspired me to develop myself further and has reinforced my career aspirations. APEC Voices was incredibly beneficial for a budding commerce student as it gave a comprehensive insight into world of business at the highest level.  

Te Puritanga Jefferies

It was both an honour and a privilege to represent New Zealand as a youth delegate at the 2016 APEC Voices of the Future. The forum was one full of positive energy and inspiration, and the experience is one which has me excited about the potential of what the future holds.

The key highlights for me were the sharing and interaction of different cultures, especially the chance to experience first-hand the country, culture and people of Perú. It was a rare opportunity to be able to meet with so many like-minded individuals from a range of backgrounds; to hear of our world from the perspective of other youth - the challenges and the opportunities.

The forum has given me renewed confidence in the work that I do in the Māori economic development space, and highlighted the need for greater youth input into this area. I know that many of the relationships created at the forum will continue to grow, and my hope is that someday in the future I may call, or be called upon, to work alongside my fellow delegates again for the benefit of our nations and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Izzy Strangl - AUT

On the day I returned to New Zealand from Lima Peru, I realised that in one short week, I had grown tremendously as a young individual. The opportunity to take part in both the APEC Voices of the Future (VOF) and APEC CEO Summit has changed my perspective on the world forever.

Firstly, being in Lima Peru opened my mind to a culture I previously knew nothing about. Through many Peruvian activities and sightseeing expeditions, I grew a fondness for the Latin American way of life.

Secondly, I found the most invaluable learning experience from the trip was meeting and befriending other youth delegates from the 21 APEC economies. It was enlightening to learn about the many cultures and backgrounds which were so different from my own. I am now lucky enough to have lifelong friends situated around the Asia Pacific region!

Lastly, I enjoyed attending the APEC CEO Summit and listening to some of the top influential leaders from around the world. During Mark Zuckerberg's speech, he highlighted the importance of people and global connectedness. To me, this captured the essence of what I believe to be the foundation for APEC’s success.

After spending a week in Peru, I now have a deeper appreciation for people and cultures. It was an experience I will never forget, and I hope to share my newfound knowledge with other members of youth in my society. I am honoured and forever thankful to have been given the opportunity to represent both AUT and New Zealand at the APEC 2016 VOF and CEO Summits.

VOICES 2016: List
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