Foon confirms retirement

'The people's mayor'

'The people's mayor'

END OF AN ERA: After close to two decades in the public eye Gisborne’s Mayor and Mayoress Meng and Ying Foon are looking forward to a new future. Mr Foon made a brief announcement that he was retiring from local body government at the start of today’s Gisborne District Council Future Tairawhiti meeting. Picture by Paul Rickard

GISBORNE Mayor Meng Foon confirmed this morning he is to retire from local body government.

Mr Foon started today’s Gisborne District Council Future Tairawhiti meeting with a brief announcement, saying he wanted to let councillors know face to face.

It marks the end of an 18-year reign as mayor of Gisborne.

He was elected as a councillor in 1995, representing the Patutahi-Taruheru ward, and was elected mayor in 2001.

“Ying and I sincerely thank our Tairawhiti community for all the support they have given us over the 24 years in local government.

“I also sincerely acknowledge my wife Ying and family. She has been a great support throughout this wonderful journey.”

Mr Foon served on the local government executive, rural provincial, regional sectors group and zone 2 of Local Government New Zealand, along with many other organisations.

“We have had many experiences together with our communities, and especially thank our close-knit friends who have given guidance and support.”

His relationship with the community was second to none, he said. He had been able to traverse a wide and diverse community — rural and urban, different ethnic groups, businesses and charities.

“I have been able to easily establish rapport with people from all walks of life and ethnic diversity.”

A “people’s person”, he believes he has had a common-sense approach to solutions.

“There have been times when I can’t help from the council but will give a suggestion to help guide people toward a solution.”

Many on the East Coast had never seen a mayor before Mr Foon was elected.

Being fluent in te reo had helped him understand and participate in Maori communities.

A businessman of 50 years, he started from harvesting puha as a child to grow his Post Office Savings Bank account.

His knowledge of the rural community had been valuable in issues like water, roads, flood protection and drainage, he said.

Retention of local business had been important to him.

“Examples are Bulmer Harvest and LeaderBrand for their salad house.”

He was proud to be a keen supporter in attracting businesses to Gisborne and said he would always give 100 percent effort to help with their success because employment for the community was important to him.

Mr Foon was pleased to be part of a policy to stop “urban creep” into the region’s most productive soils.

“The purchase of the port by Eastland Group was a great commercial transaction. This allowed our community to retain farms at Tauwhareparae, now valued at $65m.”

After 50 years of sewage going into the sea, the community saved to build a wastewater treatment plant under budget and on time.

“This would be one of the key highlights of my career.”

He built many relationships with a diverse number of people, locally, nationally and internationally.

He has worked with four chief executives, six different councils and three deputy mayors.

“And a great team of staff. I wish to acknowledge their valuable contribution in advancing Tairawhiti’s future. They’re all a great passionate bunch of good people.”

He welcomed many visitors from all walks of life here.

“It is always a highlight to share with them the paradise we live in.”

“I know they have a job to do and don’t interfere.”

Many to thank for support and help

“I appreciate being the most popular mayor on Maori media channels as I am the only mayor after 18 years that speaks fluent reo, and I’m able to articulate the views and issues of our local community.”

“It had always been a highlight and an honour to have my parents travel from Hong Kong every election to congratulate their ‘big boy’.

“To my nominators Bob Smith and Phyllis Rickard — thanks for having faith in me.”

There had been many key friends who had supported and helped him and Ying.

“Uncle Api (Mahuika) was a great leader, whose ability to connect with all levels of society showed me that relationships are everything.

“Aunty Karen, Uncle Rutene and Uncle Temple, Aunty Olive, Uncle Toti, Claude my mate and driver, my good mate Honore Chesley — gone too soon, Sarwan, John Kirkpatrick, Uncle Toko and Aunty Rawinia Te Kani, Pauli, Isikeli, Ted White, Jim Holdsworth, Bauldy, Hemi, Jim and Anne, Trevor, Prince and Connie, Phil and Ta Henare and Lady Lorna, Aunty Heini, Peggy Kaua and Uncle Noel . . . so many more, you have all made my work seamless and enjoyable.

“To the Chinese community, especially Aunty Jean, Meng Yee, Dickie and Jamela, you have kept me humble; Richard and Janet, who looked after the kids when they were young; Jane and Phil, who looked after the shop while Ying was at functions.

“There is so much more to tell and so many more people to thank and acknowledge.

“There is a saying this job is a thankless job but I can put my hand on heart and say the good people outweigh the few negatives.

“Ying has always been supported by many community organisations, especially the women’s institute, and she has formed close friendships.

“They have enjoyed cooking up a storm for charities to help with their fundraising.

“Ying and I aren’t leaving town. We are staying put as this is our home, our community and we want to continue to support it.

“We will soon have two moko in London and look forward to spoiling them.”

Mr Foon said he might even have time to write an autobiography . . . “in Menglish”.

“Many have told me there is a life after being the mayor. One door closes and another door opens.”

GISBORNE Mayor Meng Foon confirmed this morning he is to retire from local body government.

Mr Foon started today’s Gisborne District Council Future Tairawhiti meeting with a brief announcement, saying he wanted to let councillors know face to face.

It marks the end of an 18-year reign as mayor of Gisborne.

He was elected as a councillor in 1995, representing the Patutahi-Taruheru ward, and was elected mayor in 2001.

“Ying and I sincerely thank our Tairawhiti community for all the support they have given us over the 24 years in local government.

“I also sincerely acknowledge my wife Ying and family. She has been a great support throughout this wonderful journey.”

Mr Foon served on the local government executive, rural provincial, regional sectors group and zone 2 of Local Government New Zealand, along with many other organisations.

“We have had many experiences together with our communities, and especially thank our close-knit friends who have given guidance and support.”

His relationship with the community was second to none, he said. He had been able to traverse a wide and diverse community — rural and urban, different ethnic groups, businesses and charities.

“I have been able to easily establish rapport with people from all walks of life and ethnic diversity.”

A “people’s person”, he believes he has had a common-sense approach to solutions.

“There have been times when I can’t help from the council but will give a suggestion to help guide people toward a solution.”

Many on the East Coast had never seen a mayor before Mr Foon was elected.

Being fluent in te reo had helped him understand and participate in Maori communities.

A businessman of 50 years, he started from harvesting puha as a child to grow his Post Office Savings Bank account.

His knowledge of the rural community had been valuable in issues like water, roads, flood protection and drainage, he said.

Retention of local business had been important to him.

“Examples are Bulmer Harvest and LeaderBrand for their salad house.”

He was proud to be a keen supporter in attracting businesses to Gisborne and said he would always give 100 percent effort to help with their success because employment for the community was important to him.

Mr Foon was pleased to be part of a policy to stop “urban creep” into the region’s most productive soils.

“The purchase of the port by Eastland Group was a great commercial transaction. This allowed our community to retain farms at Tauwhareparae, now valued at $65m.”

After 50 years of sewage going into the sea, the community saved to build a wastewater treatment plant under budget and on time.

“This would be one of the key highlights of my career.”

He built many relationships with a diverse number of people, locally, nationally and internationally.

He has worked with four chief executives, six different councils and three deputy mayors.

“And a great team of staff. I wish to acknowledge their valuable contribution in advancing Tairawhiti’s future. They’re all a great passionate bunch of good people.”

He welcomed many visitors from all walks of life here.

“It is always a highlight to share with them the paradise we live in.”

“I know they have a job to do and don’t interfere.”

Many to thank for support and help

“I appreciate being the most popular mayor on Maori media channels as I am the only mayor after 18 years that speaks fluent reo, and I’m able to articulate the views and issues of our local community.”

“It had always been a highlight and an honour to have my parents travel from Hong Kong every election to congratulate their ‘big boy’.

“To my nominators Bob Smith and Phyllis Rickard — thanks for having faith in me.”

There had been many key friends who had supported and helped him and Ying.

“Uncle Api (Mahuika) was a great leader, whose ability to connect with all levels of society showed me that relationships are everything.

“Aunty Karen, Uncle Rutene and Uncle Temple, Aunty Olive, Uncle Toti, Claude my mate and driver, my good mate Honore Chesley — gone too soon, Sarwan, John Kirkpatrick, Uncle Toko and Aunty Rawinia Te Kani, Pauli, Isikeli, Ted White, Jim Holdsworth, Bauldy, Hemi, Jim and Anne, Trevor, Prince and Connie, Phil and Ta Henare and Lady Lorna, Aunty Heini, Peggy Kaua and Uncle Noel . . . so many more, you have all made my work seamless and enjoyable.

“To the Chinese community, especially Aunty Jean, Meng Yee, Dickie and Jamela, you have kept me humble; Richard and Janet, who looked after the kids when they were young; Jane and Phil, who looked after the shop while Ying was at functions.

“There is so much more to tell and so many more people to thank and acknowledge.

“There is a saying this job is a thankless job but I can put my hand on heart and say the good people outweigh the few negatives.

“Ying has always been supported by many community organisations, especially the women’s institute, and she has formed close friendships.

“They have enjoyed cooking up a storm for charities to help with their fundraising.

“Ying and I aren’t leaving town. We are staying put as this is our home, our community and we want to continue to support it.

“We will soon have two moko in London and look forward to spoiling them.”

Mr Foon said he might even have time to write an autobiography . . . “in Menglish”.

“Many have told me there is a life after being the mayor. One door closes and another door opens.”

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Justin Eaton, Rotorua - 2 months ago
Meng Foon, all the very best to you, and Ying, and your family for your future pursuits! My late mother, Rosemary Webb did work at GDC for a number of years, when we lived in Gisborne, and I went to school with your brother David at Makaraka School and GBHS . . . I'm sure there are many fond memories of your years as Mayor, but it is an all-consuming occupation, being available 24/7 for various emergencies, needs of constituents etc, etc . . . so it's fully understandable that you rightfully deserve a rest from this demanding lifestyle!