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Voices Of The Future An Incredible Experience, Say Alumni Organisers

With a record number of economies attending APEC Voices of the Future 2021, five New Zealand alumni of the event are helping to organise the unique summit.

The largest turn-out in the event’s 23-year history will see the former Kiwi delegates hosting the digital drafting sessions, using their previous experience to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.

The annual youth event brings together 18 to 24-year-olds from across the APEC region to discuss the big issues facing the world and have their voices heard. At the end of the 2021 event, they will present their Declaration to APEC 2021 Chair, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on behalf of the nearly one billion young people across the APEC region. The event is on November 9 and 10 and is part of APEC Leaders’ Week, the culmination of New Zealand’s hosting of APEC 2021.

Tracy Han, who was a New Zealand Voices of the Future delegate in Da Nang, Vietnam, in 2017, leads the APEC NZ Voices Alumni Working Group and is co-facilitating the “future for all” section of this year’s Youth Declaration.

“The Voices experience made me a whole lot more confident and open to sharing my voice. As a young person, it’s really important to put yourself out there and take opportunities and say what you have to say,” says Tracy (25), who has a conjoint Bachelor of Arts and Business degree from AUT, majoring in International Studies, and Human Resources Management and Employment Relations.

Asked what she got out of the experience, she says: “So much! The networking, interactions with government and business leaders through the APEC Voices Youth Forum and attending the APEC CEO Summit. Exposure to APEC and the key issues, getting to unpack those important issues and engage in valuable dialogue. The opportunity to meet the PM (Jacinda Ardern) and have breakfast with the New Zealand delegation was also a very special moment.”

As a facilitator this time, Tracy is looking forward to connecting with the new group of delegates and seeing how the event unfolds. “As it will be run virtually in the midst of a global pandemic, it will be an incredibly unique experience.”

And she says the work she did in Vietnam is still very relevant today. “The things I contributed, I still believe in today –– including making sure everyone has access to digital schooling and the ability to work in the future.”

For the “future for all” section, Tracy is working alongside Kiriana Koni, who was chosen to go to Chile in 2019 but that Voices of the Future event was cancelled.

Courtney Davies (25), who was a Voices delegate in Lima, Peru, in 2016, says she gained a deeper understanding of the different cultures and their priorities within the APEC region. The best thing about it, she says, was meeting the broad network of superstar young leaders and their relevant skill sets.

“As a scientist going to an economic forum, it was refreshing to be part of an interdisciplinary conversation that centred around innovation, quality growth and human development with a seat at the table for every background.”

The Massey University graduate (25) has a Bachelor of Natural Science, a Master of Natural Science in microbiology, and is now studying for a MBA while working full-time. She is facilitating the “greener future” sessions at this year’s Voices of the Future.

The other alumni helping with the 2021 event are Zachary George-Neich, who also went to Vietnam in 2017 and will facilitate the “digital future” sessions, and Hannah Pattullo, who went to Papua New Guinea in 2018 and who is facilitating “international co-operation to combat COVID-19.”


About APEC Voices New Zealand: New Zealand is the host of APEC in 2021, and is partnering with AUT, the Voices NZ Trust and the APEC Voices Secretariat in Singapore to deliver the APEC Voices of the Future 2021 programme. The APEC Voices New Zealand programme was launched in 2004 with funding from the Fletcher Foundation. This enabled their first delegation to travel to Chile. For five years the Voices Trust held national events to select four students to represent New Zealand. Throughout, a number of New Zealand universities and Te Puni Kokiri (TPK) have been strong supporters of the programme by selecting and funding students to represent New Zealand at the international events now organised by the APEC Voice Secretariat, Singapore.

About AUT:

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) is one of the world’s best modern universities. Home to more than 29,000 students across three campuses, AUT leads Australasia in global research impact, with over 60 research centres and institutes delivering leading research – from artificial intelligence to robotics, and ecology to public health. As a contemporary university, AUT is connected to an extraordinary range of organisations worldwide; sharing expertise and resources, collaborating on ground-breaking research, and connecting students with industry leaders and employers. Learn more about AUT

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