The Society of Certificated Executive Secretaries NZ Incorporated was formed by Doreen Smart, who was at the time Head of Secretarial Studies at the Wellington Polytechnic, in Wellington in 1972. The Society was formally incorporated in November 1972 and the Wellington Group was also formed at that time.
The foundation members of this Society were secretaries who had successfully gained the Chamber of Commerce Award for secretaries, a number of tutors of secretarial studies and other secretaries keen to see the status of the secretarial profession improved. In 1973 the Wellington Chamber of Commerce extended its award scheme to Auckland and the winner, Miss Lesley Kendall, was encouraged to form an Auckland Group. This group was formally established in 1974. At the Annual General Meeting in 1976, Miss Lesley Kendall was elected President and members of the Executive Committee were elected from the Auckland Group. The Registered Office of the Society moved to Auckland.
In June 1977 the Dunedin Group was formed. This was a significant milestone for the Society as it was now becoming recognised nationally. At an Extraordinary Meeting held in May 1982, it was decided to change the name of the Society to NZ Society of Executive Secretaries Inc with effect from 1 September 1982.
At a reconvened Annual General Meeting held in Wellington on 24 July 2000, members of the NZ Society of Executive Secretaries Inc voted in favour of changing the name of its organisation to Association of Administrative Professionals NZ Incorporated (AAPNZ Inc), a change of name reflecting worldwide professional developments.