Meng Foon appointed Race Relations Commissioner

Meng Foon appointed Race Relations Commissioner

Venkat Raman

Auckland, July 11, 2019

Meng Foon (Picture Supplied)

The Government has appointed Meng Foon as the next Race Relations Commissioner.

Currently Mayor of Gisborne, he will take up his new assignment on August 24, 2019, less than two months before the end of his three-year tenure of Mayorality.

Justice Minister Andrew Little, who announced the appointment this morning, said that Mr Foon has an outstanding record for building relationships with Maori, Chinese and other communities in New Zealand.

Describing Race Relations as a priority area for the Human Rights Commission, Mr Little said that there was a need to continuously breakdown barriers to racial and ethnic equality.

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

About the Appointment

The appointment of a Race Relations Commissioner was delayed because of an injunction brought by an unsuccessful applicant.

“When that did not succeed, the same person sought judicial review of the process earlier this year. The decision was taken on May 1, 2019  and the Governor General accepted the recommendation to appoint Mr Foon this week,” he said.

About the Human Rights Commission

An independent Crown entity that works with Government and civil society to promote respect for human rights, the Human Rights Commission encourages harmonious race relations and equal employment opportunities and resolution of complaints about discrimination and related issues.

The process and panels used to appoint Commissioners is independent and complies with the ‘Paris Principles.’ The leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament were consulted on the appointment process.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said that he and his fellow Commissioners look forward to working with Mr Foon.

“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,” he said. 

About Meng Foon

Meng Foon was first elected to the Gisborne District Council in 1995 and became Mayor in 2001. He was among a very few people of Chinese descent to become a Mayor.

He is fluent in English, Cantonese and Te Reo Māori.  A member of many community organisations including the Ngā Taonga a nā Tama Toa Trust, the New Zealand Chinese Association, Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust and MY Gold Investments Limited, he also been the Chair of the Gisborne/Tarawhiti since 2007 and a Member of the New Zealand Rugby League Board.

He has a musical album called ‘Tu Mai,’ incorporating various native tracks to his credit.

Mr Foon said that his role as the Mayor enhanced his understanding of the communities and issues relating to racism and other discrimination.

“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,” he said. 

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