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Commission welcomes new Race Relations Commissioner

11 July 2019

The Human Rights Commission welcomes the appointment of a new Race Relations Commissioner, announced today by Justice Minister Andrew Little.

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

Mr Foon joins the Commission after 18 years as Mayor of Gisborne. He is fluent in te reo Māori, 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 says.

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 says.

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

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

Note to Editors

• Mr Foon has been appointed for a five-year term.

• The previous Race Relations Commissioner was Dame Susan Devoy, who left the Commission in June 2018 after her five-year term ended.

• Paul Hunt has acted in the role since he joined the Commission in January 2019 with assistance post March 15 from former Race Relations Commissioner Joris De Bres (2002 – 2013).

• Mr Foon joins Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt; Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Saunoamaali'iKaraninaSumeo; and Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero.

Biography

Meng Foon has been the Mayor of Gisborne working under six elected councils for 18 years.

He has worked as a senior public servant and has been a member of several crown sub-committees reviewing legislation.

Under his Mayoral leadership, he led New Zealand’s first joint decision-making agreement under the Resource Management Act with Ngāti 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 speaks te Reo Māori, Seyip, Cantonese and English fluently, and is learning Mandarin.

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.

ENDS


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