Mayor Foon ‘excited and honoured’ to be named the new Race Relations Commissioner

'He walks comfortably in Pakeha world, Maori world, with Chinese and other communities'

'He walks comfortably in Pakeha world, Maori world, with Chinese and other communities'

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon has been appointed as Race Relations Commissioner.

He takes over from Dame Susan Devoy, who left the role in June last year after major changes at the Human Rights Commission.

The position has been vacant for more than a year because of legal reasons, including an unsuccessful candidate suing the Government over the selection process.

In a statement this morning, Justice Minister Andrew Little said Mr Foon had an outstanding record as a relationship builder.

He said Mr Foon walked comfortably in the Pakeha world, the Maori world, the Chinese community and other communities making up New Zealand.

“This is an exciting appointment to a role that presents enormous challenges but tremendous possibilities.”

Mr Foon was first elected onto the Gisborne District Council in 1995 and became mayor in 2001. He is one of a handful of people of Chinese descent to have become a mayor in New Zealand.

Still the only mayor in NZ fluent in te reo

As of 2019, he is still the only mayor in New Zealand who is fluent in te reo.

Mr Foon told the Gisborne Herald this morning he was very excited and honoured to be appointed for the role of the Race Relations Commissioner.

“I want to acknowledge Minister Andrew Little for the appointment, acknowledge my referees and all my supporters and Tairawhiti as well as New Zealand for the tremendous support. I also acknowledge Ying and my family — they are just awesome.”

He was looking forward to getting to know his fellow commissioners.

“I am keen to meet many of our diverse communities, keen to listen and keen for them to give me solutions.

“We live in a great country; my role is just one of the solutions for issues here of poverty, unemployment, family abuse, health and education.

“We need to work together with other ministries to support our community solutions with action.

“We need to do things differently.”

New role begins in August

Mr Foon starts in his new position on August 26 but has to be inducted before then.

Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says Meng has been a dedicated and charismatic mayor and instrumental in leading some of the big issues facing the council and the region.

“He has provided unwavering support for local businesses and industries and his engagement and relationships with our Maori communities has been extremely beneficial.

“He leaves the council in a good position with his recent advocacy for government funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for our districts’ roads.”

The council was making preparations to ensure continuity until the local body election in October, said Mrs Thatcher Swann.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Mr Foon said New Zealand was a great country but there was still work to do on race issues.

He said the Christchurch mosque attacks raised awareness about racism but also brought out a lot of love and support for the Muslim community.

Still a few issues to iron out in the areas of racism in NZ

However, he said there were obviously a few issues still to iron out in the areas of racism in New Zealand.

He added that if he can continue the work of past Race Relations Commissioners, the country will be in good stead for the future.

Mr Little said it was regrettable that the appointment of the Race Relations Commissioner had been delayed for so long.

At the end of last year, an unsuccessful applicant in an earlier round sought an injunction to stop the appointment process.

When that did not succeed the same person sought judicial review of the process earlier this year, Mr Little said

Mr Foon’s appointment was finalised on May 1 this year and the Governor-General accepted the appointment this week.

“It has been a long wait but I am confident this is an excellent appointment,” Little said.

— NZ Herald, The Gisborne Herald

Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon has been appointed as Race Relations Commissioner.

He takes over from Dame Susan Devoy, who left the role in June last year after major changes at the Human Rights Commission.

The position has been vacant for more than a year because of legal reasons, including an unsuccessful candidate suing the Government over the selection process.

In a statement this morning, Justice Minister Andrew Little said Mr Foon had an outstanding record as a relationship builder.

He said Mr Foon walked comfortably in the Pakeha world, the Maori world, the Chinese community and other communities making up New Zealand.

“This is an exciting appointment to a role that presents enormous challenges but tremendous possibilities.”

Mr Foon was first elected onto the Gisborne District Council in 1995 and became mayor in 2001. He is one of a handful of people of Chinese descent to have become a mayor in New Zealand.

Still the only mayor in NZ fluent in te reo

As of 2019, he is still the only mayor in New Zealand who is fluent in te reo.

Mr Foon told the Gisborne Herald this morning he was very excited and honoured to be appointed for the role of the Race Relations Commissioner.

“I want to acknowledge Minister Andrew Little for the appointment, acknowledge my referees and all my supporters and Tairawhiti as well as New Zealand for the tremendous support. I also acknowledge Ying and my family — they are just awesome.”

He was looking forward to getting to know his fellow commissioners.

“I am keen to meet many of our diverse communities, keen to listen and keen for them to give me solutions.

“We live in a great country; my role is just one of the solutions for issues here of poverty, unemployment, family abuse, health and education.

“We need to work together with other ministries to support our community solutions with action.

“We need to do things differently.”

New role begins in August

Mr Foon starts in his new position on August 26 but has to be inducted before then.

Gisborne District Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says Meng has been a dedicated and charismatic mayor and instrumental in leading some of the big issues facing the council and the region.

“He has provided unwavering support for local businesses and industries and his engagement and relationships with our Maori communities has been extremely beneficial.

“He leaves the council in a good position with his recent advocacy for government funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for our districts’ roads.”

The council was making preparations to ensure continuity until the local body election in October, said Mrs Thatcher Swann.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning, Mr Foon said New Zealand was a great country but there was still work to do on race issues.

He said the Christchurch mosque attacks raised awareness about racism but also brought out a lot of love and support for the Muslim community.

Still a few issues to iron out in the areas of racism in NZ

However, he said there were obviously a few issues still to iron out in the areas of racism in New Zealand.

He added that if he can continue the work of past Race Relations Commissioners, the country will be in good stead for the future.

Mr Little said it was regrettable that the appointment of the Race Relations Commissioner had been delayed for so long.

At the end of last year, an unsuccessful applicant in an earlier round sought an injunction to stop the appointment process.

When that did not succeed the same person sought judicial review of the process earlier this year, Mr Little said

Mr Foon’s appointment was finalised on May 1 this year and the Governor-General accepted the appointment this week.

“It has been a long wait but I am confident this is an excellent appointment,” Little said.

— NZ Herald, The Gisborne Herald

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

winston moreton - 11 days ago
'Warts and all' as the expression goes, he's a very good choice. Everybody wins including Gisborne.

Bruce Scott, Masterton - 10 days ago
An excellent choice for race relations commissioner. I moved out of Gisborne (after living there for 20 years) before Meng became Mayor, but I have followed his career leading Gisborne with interest.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you support the parking plan change the council is seeking, to reduce parking requirements for new business developments in the inner harbour?