The Human Rights Commission has welcomed the appointment of a new Race Relations Commissioner, announced by Justice Minister Andrew Little on Thursday, July 11.

Outgoing Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon has been appointed the Race Relations Commissioner, and he is expected to take up his new position in August 2019.

Mr Foon joins the Commission after 18 years as Mayor of Gisborne and is fluent in te Reo Maori, Seyip, Cantonese and English, and is learning Mandarin.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt says he and his fellow Commissioners look forward to working with the new Commissioner.

“We are thrilled to have someone of Meng’s experience joining the Commission in this role. His background in working across cultures in business and at the community level will be a boost to improving race relations in this country.

“We are all looking forward to working with Meng to help create the fairer, more harmonious society so many people have been calling for, particularly in the wake of the terrible events in Christchurch,” Mr Hunt said.

Mr Foon says he is excited to be joining the Commission as Race Relations Commissioner and to building on the work of the previous Commissioners.

“It’s an honour to have been appointed through such a thorough process.” 

“He honore tenei turanga ki au. Ko te mea nui, ka mahi tahi tatau mo te oranga o te katoa,” Mr Foon said.

“I acknowledge there is a lot of hard work in front of us. I am looking forward to working with my fellow Commissioners, Commission staff and the diverse communities that make up this country to get that work done.

“My role as Mayor enhanced my understanding of our community and issues regarding racism and other discrimination. As a proud New Zealand Chinese, I was brought up with values of inclusiveness,” Mr Foon added.

Mr Foon has a degree in Iwi Environmental Management, which he says has enhanced his understanding of the Maori world-view.

“I use this mauri to encompass every aspect of my life,” he says.

Image Courtesy: Otago Daily Times

Dame Susan Devoy stood down from her post in June 2018.

About Meng Foon:

Meng Foon has been the Mayor of Gisborne working under six elected councils for 18 years, worked as a senior public servant and has been a member of several crown sub-committees reviewing the legislation. 

Under his Mayoral leadership, he led New Zealand’s first joint decision-making agreement under the Resource Management Act with Ngati Porou regarding their taonga and resource consent matters.

Mr Foon has a bachelor’s degree in Iwi Environmental Management and Governance qualifications from the Institute of Directors. He is a former President of the New Zealand Chinese Association and has worked with across diverse communities, charities, multicultural associations and NGOs in the country.

Mr Foon is a strong advocate of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi and working alongside Tangata Whenua and ethnic communities to improve race relations in New Zealand.