Jacinda Ardern missed a chance last night to offer to help Papua New Guinea lift its representation of women.

Her one-on-one meeting with Apec host and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was called off because things were running behind time.

But she would have raised the issue of women's representation in PNG where there are no women MPs, she told reporters travelling with her.

"I would have taken the opportunity to raise an issue that I raised many years ago when I first visited Papua New Guinea and that is the issue of women's representation here," she said.


"I think that is something we would like to be able to offer assistance with in terms of support of women."

Foreign Minister Winston Peters is here in PNG too and he joined Ardern at an Apec leaders' meeting Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting.

It included Pacific countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of China (Kiribati, Marshal Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu).

China's President, Xi Jinping was not at the Pacific meeting - he had held his own on Friday with eight Pacific countries that recognise China (PNG, Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Niue,

US Vice-President Mike Pence, who is representing Donald Trump at Apec, was also a no-show at the Pacific meeting.

Pence is flying back and forth to PNG from Cairns rather than staying here.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was there and Ardern caught up with him for a chat after the Pacific leaders' meeting.

Ardern said top of the Pacific leaders' agenda was climate change followed by environmental degradation and plastics and also sustainable fisheries.


Speaking to New Zealand reporters afterwards about the renewed interest in the Pacific,
Ardern said she expected to see some of the competition between China and the United States playing out at Apec.

Asked if she thought the bidding war around Pacific aid was crass she said: "Ultimately these are still diplomatic relations being carried out between Pacific and other nations and that is for them to determine.

Without being boastful, we've got the knowledge, we've got the experience, we've got the DNA and countries are looking at us because they don't see a hidden agenda."

"What is important for us is that our relationship is long and enduring. We have been here for a long time. We will stay here for a long time because our relationship is unique and it wont be determined by what happens with any other nation. Nor should it be."

Peters said other countries in recent times were looking at New Zealand with fresh eyes.

"In times of uncertainty and potential economic chaos as a result of a conflict between the Chinese and the United States, never the less there is enormous opportunity here.

"It arises from the fact that other countries are looking at New Zealand with fresh eyes now and that is dramatic, whether it be Vietnam, whether it be Indonesia, whether it be countries like Brunei.

Apec Haus in Port Moresby where the leaders' summits are being held.
Apec Haus in Port Moresby where the leaders' summits are being held.

"All of a sudden they have got a different perspective about New Zealand and some of the thing that go back to this country's long term character and integrity when it comes to the Pacific is starting to show through.

"It is something I wouldn't have seen before, I'm seeing it now and I think it offers us enormous opportunity to have a far more profound influence in the shape of the Pacific than we hitherto have had."

Asked why New Zealand was being viewed with fresh eyes, he said: "It's because, without being boastful, we've got the knowledge, we've got the experience, we've got the DNA and countries are looking at us because they don't see a hidden agenda."

Peters welcomed Australia's renewed focus on the Pacific - Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week unveiled new plans for infrastructure funding and greater military assistance.

"I'm seriously encouraged by it. We need seriously in depth conversations about what it all means but I am really seriously encouraged by its refocus, of the United States' refocus.

"The game has changed and we have got I think coming a potential for far greater partnerships than we have ever had."

Asked if China was building or buying relationships in the Pacific, Ardern said every country's engagement with individual states within the Pacific was a matter for them.

"We are focused on our relationship."

Peters said New Zealand focused not just on the economy but the total culture of a country it worked in "and on things like equality, women's rights, family violence, education and human development so we provide a comprehensive approach.

"I'm not pointing to any other country but some countries don't do that."