Made in China – born in Gisborne – working for Aotearoa

Meng Foon was born in Tairāwhiti to working class migrant parents but soon immersed himself in a community that didn’t look or sound like him. His family’s early toil as market gardeners was profitable in a business sense but more importantly, it brought its social benefits– with the Foon’s connecting with people across the region and from all backgrounds. This grounding, and interest in Te Ao Māori, evolved into a talent of building relationships within and between varied and diverse communities. It is this talent which was showcased in 18 years as Gisborne Mayor but has taken on even greater importance with Meng’s appointment as Race Relations Commissioner in 2019. Meng uses different languages every day and is fluent in his Chinese dialects, Te Reo Rangatira o Te Tairāwhiti and English.  Meng’s use of language highlights how some of our present race issues can be resolved to create a more harmonious Aotearoa for the future.