End of an era

EDITORIAL

Mayor Meng Foon confirmed the end of an era come local body election time in October with a brief, quietly-spoken announcement at the start of today’s council meeting — after a prayer, then a minute’s silence for rangatira Rutene Irwin, whose final tangi service is today.

“I’d just like you to know, face-to-face, that I’m retiring this year,” said Mr Foon.

“So, thank you so much.

“We’ll just continue with our agenda and there will be more stuff later on regarding this matter.”

It seems he had told colleagues this would be the announcement, as precipitated by a fellow retiring mayor in an interview on Newstalk ZB last week, and requested that there be no responses. Faces around the table were deadpan, and the formal meeting got under way.

Mr Foon indicated the same to us in an email on Monday after we asked when the anouncement would be: “9.05 for 30 seconds. A short message from me and speeches nearer the end of my term.”

Yesterday morning he offered the opportunity for us to get a photo to run with the story of his announcement, and said he would send comments to us if we didn’t do anything with them until after today’s council meeting.

Mr Foon has always been media savvy, as much as he tests reporters and editors with his “Menglish” writing. For someone who also speaks te reo and Cantonese, tidying up the Mayor’s English has not been an issue for us; apparently we’ve done the same for previous monolingual mayors.

He says in his statement today that he appreciates media “telling it as it is”. In the past he has enjoyed repeating the quote “You don’t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel” . . . although he blamed The Gisborne Herald when he lost his first bid to be mayor in 1998.

Mr Foon rightly describes himself today as a people’s person whose fluent te reo has enabled him to understand and participate in Maori communities. He has been the go-to mayor for Maori media, and a regular interview subject with mainstream national media as well.

Meng and Ying Foon have been tireless in their attendance at all manner of events over the past 17-and-a-half years of his mayoralty, and that consistent and continuous representation of the office is to their great credit.

Mayor Meng Foon confirmed the end of an era come local body election time in October with a brief, quietly-spoken announcement at the start of today’s council meeting — after a prayer, then a minute’s silence for rangatira Rutene Irwin, whose final tangi service is today.

“I’d just like you to know, face-to-face, that I’m retiring this year,” said Mr Foon.

“So, thank you so much.

“We’ll just continue with our agenda and there will be more stuff later on regarding this matter.”

It seems he had told colleagues this would be the announcement, as precipitated by a fellow retiring mayor in an interview on Newstalk ZB last week, and requested that there be no responses. Faces around the table were deadpan, and the formal meeting got under way.

Mr Foon indicated the same to us in an email on Monday after we asked when the anouncement would be: “9.05 for 30 seconds. A short message from me and speeches nearer the end of my term.”

Yesterday morning he offered the opportunity for us to get a photo to run with the story of his announcement, and said he would send comments to us if we didn’t do anything with them until after today’s council meeting.

Mr Foon has always been media savvy, as much as he tests reporters and editors with his “Menglish” writing. For someone who also speaks te reo and Cantonese, tidying up the Mayor’s English has not been an issue for us; apparently we’ve done the same for previous monolingual mayors.

He says in his statement today that he appreciates media “telling it as it is”. In the past he has enjoyed repeating the quote “You don’t pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel” . . . although he blamed The Gisborne Herald when he lost his first bid to be mayor in 1998.

Mr Foon rightly describes himself today as a people’s person whose fluent te reo has enabled him to understand and participate in Maori communities. He has been the go-to mayor for Maori media, and a regular interview subject with mainstream national media as well.

Meng and Ying Foon have been tireless in their attendance at all manner of events over the past 17-and-a-half years of his mayoralty, and that consistent and continuous representation of the office is to their great credit.

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