Over 100 vendors, mainly women, turned up to see Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern officially open Gordon's Market in an outer suburb of Port Moresby this morning.

And they got a rallying cry from her to get involved in politics in PNG – where there are no women MPs.

She made the 7.30 am event before official meetings of the day got underway at the Apec leaders' summit being hosted by Papua New Guinea.

It was very much a women's focused project and women's focused event.


Most of the stall holders are women and photos of the former market show trade previously being conducted on the dirt and around puddles and great piles of rubbish.

When the complex is complete in a few months – Fletchers it doing it – it will provide two vast levels of covered area for about 2000 stall holders, funded to the tune of $7 million from New Zealand's Overseas Development Assistance.

"Gutpela monin tru olgeta," Ardern began (good morning everyone).
"Welcome to your new home."

Up to 90 per cent of the vendors at Gordon's market were women "and behind them will be families and behind them will be the success of their community so this is a very deliberate project on behalf of the people of New Zealand."

If you want a community or a country to thrive you look after the women she said, to applause.

"I hope that as a result of this project, the women here thrive, they are safe, they have a safe space where they can work, where you can build your business, where you can build the well-being of your family because that's where success builds.

"And I hope also that as a result of more women thriving in their communities, building their business, maybe some of them will go into politics as well because we can always use more women in politics.

Ardern mingled with most of the stall holders afterwards although avoided the table at which vendros were selling bunches of tobacco leaves grown in their own garden.


PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato was there and got a special reception from a group of women originally from his electorate.

Jacinda Ardern meets some of the stallholders after the official opening. Photo / Audrey Young
Jacinda Ardern meets some of the stallholders after the official opening. Photo / Audrey Young

Asked why there were no women MPs, he told the Herald that women had stood in most electorates last election but none had been elected.

"The elections are fair open and free and I have said many a time and so has the Prime Minister that we are about gender equality, empowerment of girls and women and we would like to get representation of women in the Parliament of our country."

The constitution provided for unelected representation "and because of the lack of women in Parliament we are thinking of invoking that provision to ensure women are represented – at least by one."

Foreign Minister Winston Peters was not at the event but later in the morning he attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a St John Ambulance operation centre which New Zealand funded to the tune of $1.1 million.

The Government has also announced a $10 million contribution specifically for polio vaccinations for PNG where there has been a recent outbreak.