Key Points:

After being sworn in today and holding his first cabinet meeting, Prime Minister John Key was preparing to leave for Peru where 20 other leaders are gathering for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit meeting.

Mr Key formed his new government quickly so he could attend the summit.

Guiding New Zealand's economy through the international financial crisis is at the top of his agenda, and he wants to find out what the assessment is at Apec.

"I think the message on the international stage will be that there's still great concern about the financial crisis, and that the world will have to work together to find solutions," Mr Key said before he went into the cabinet meeting.

New Zealand has been a member of Apec since it was formed in 1989, and former prime minister Helen Clark attended nine summits.

This weekend in Lima Mr Key will be alongside prime ministers and presidents from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

The crisis that is plunging the world into recession is set to dominate the summit, along with efforts to firm up an international response.

It is being held five days after another international gathering of leaders, the G20 summit in Washington which exclusively focused on the crisis.

Leaders at the G20 summit emphasised the need to reform the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as improving regulations governing the global financial system.

Apec member countries account for half the world's trade and nearly 60 per cent of its gross domestic product.

The summit will be the swansong international meeting for US President George W Bush, who leave office in January next year.

Mr Key, who leaves Wellington tomorrow afternoon, will have just a handful of officials with him.

His foreign affairs spokesman Murray McCully and trade spokesman Tim Groser have already left for preliminary meetings. They will be sworn in as ministers when they return.

In contrast to New Zealand's small numbers the US is taking a delegation of 900, Japan 500 and China 300.

In all there will be more than 3600 delegates at the summit, the highest attendance it has recorded.

- NZPA