It would be "foolish and misguided" if the issues of the South China Sea weren't raised when Asia Pacific leaders meet for a series of forums this week, Prime Minister John Key says.
Mr Key will head to Laos on Tuesday night for the East Asia Summit where US President Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull are on the list of people he'd like to meet with.
The PM is scheduled to meet with a number of leaders over the two day conference in Vientiane.
There's no set schedule for the meetings, though Mr Key expects a combination of economic and regional security issues to dominate the discussions.
"We may even get a bit of a sense behind the scenes from President Obama on how he is moving on with the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)," Mr Key told reporters in the lead up.
"It's my understanding that he is still very aggressively trying to push the agenda for TPP despite what Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have said."
With leaders from both China and the Philippines attending, he expects the issues surrounding the South China Sea will also be raised, as well as possible discussions around counter espionage, foreign fighters and cyber security.
Mr Key also indicated he would discuss his predecessor Helen Clark's bid to become the next United Nations Secretary-General with other members of the Security Council.
"Why wouldn't we take that opportunity to continue to support her case? She's made it pretty clear she's staying in, I support that," he said.
Following two days of talks Mr Key and his delegation will travel to Pohnpei, Micronesia to take part in the Pacific Island Forum where climate change is expected to be a main talking point.
At last year's forum in Papua New Guinea the New Zealand Government committed $50 million to support the development of a quota system and improve monitoring and enforcement systems to protect Pacific fish stocks over the next three years.