Sir David Attenborough has told Jacinda Ardern about his love of the kākāpō and praised New Zealand's efforts to kill predators, saying that "the knees of rats shake when New Zealand is near".

They met before both taking part in the Safeguarding Our Planet panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos this morning (NZT).

"He mentioned specifically his appreciation for New Zealand, his love of New Zealand's native birds, and in particular his love of the kākāpō," Ardern said about her meeting with Attenborough.

"He also mentioned the work we had done around reducing predators, and pointed out that the knees of rats shake when New Zealand is near because of our success in tackling predators.


"I never really imagined rats having knees until he said that."

Ardern is halfway through her trip to Europe, having met with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London earlier this week.

Neither May nor US President Donald Trump are in Davos, but Ardern said that the forum's messages would have resonance around the world regardless of who attended.

Ardern's primary purpose for the trip is to advance a free trade deal with the EU, and she is having bilateral meetings with EU leaders to shore up support.

Today she had a meeting with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and tomorrow will meet Estonia Prime Minister Jeri RATs.

She also met Peru's Vice President Mercedes Arys to discuss the Pacific Alliance, a regional group through which New Zealand is pursuing a free trade deal with Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Chile.

Earlier she met the forum's executive chairman Professor Klaus Schwab, where they discussed the Government's plans for a wellbeing Budget and the forum's focus on Globalisation 4.0, a look at how digitally enabled services are reshaping globalisation.

Ardern said the wellbeing Budget had sparked a lot of interest, and she is expected to bring it up when she takes part in the More Than GDP panel at the forum tomorrow.


"Other countries for a number of years have had scorecards and analysis, but what we're doing with the wellbeing Budget is trying to embed it in the way we make decisions, and even retooling things like the Public Finance Act," Ardern said.

"There's a discussion going on about the destabilisation we're seeing in some democracies around the world and there are different indicators for that destabilisation, but ultimately it all brings us back to the same question: people are feeling dissatisfied, and what's the cause of that?

"If we can put in our system new ways of operating that try and get to the heart of what it is people are seeking from their politicians, perhaps we can get to the heart of some of that destabilisation ... Maybe if we prove it [the wellbeing Budget] can be successful, others might look to it."

Tomorrow she will deliver the opening remarks at a meeting of the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders titled "The End of Global Trade as we know it?"

She will promote multilateralism and a rules-based international system, which she has spoken about at the UN general assembly last year, a speech that contrasted starkly with Trump's speech to the same assembly about protectionism.

She will also join Prince William on a panel about mental health, meet the bosses of mining company Rio Tinto to discuss its environmental projects, and attend a dinner hosted by Google executives, where she said she would bring up the suppression orders that Google appeared to break in the Grace Millane murder case.