Retiring Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon has been appointed the next Race Relations Commissioner.
Mr Foon will take up his new appointment on 26 August 2019 and will be responsible for leading the work of the Human Rights Commission in promoting positive race relations.
Justice Minister Andrew Little says Mr Foon has an outstanding record as a relationship builder and walks comfortably in the pākehā world, the Māori world, the Chinese community and other communities making up New Zealand.
The Human Rights Commission is an independent Crown entity that works with Government and civil society to promote respect for human rights, encourage harmonious race relations and equal employment opportunities, and to resolve complaints about discrimination and related issues.
Meng 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. He is fluent in English, Cantonese and Te Reo Māori. As of 2019, he is still the only mayor in New Zealand who is fluent in Te Reo.
He is a member of a number of community organisations including the Ngā Taonga a nā Tama Toa Trust, the New Zealand Chinese Association, Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust and MY Gold Investments Ltd. He has released a musical number, Tu Mai, which includes various native tracks, he has been chair of Gisborne/Tarawhiti Rugby League since 2007, and is a member of the New Zealand Rugby League Board.