Who is Meng Foon?
Meng Liu Foon, a prominent New Zealand politician, has left an indelible mark on the political landscape of the country. Serving as the mayor of Gisborne for an impressive 18 years, from 2001 to 2019, Foon has been a trailblazer in local government. His contributions extend beyond his mayoralty, as he took on the role of New Zealand’s race relations commissioner in August 2019. In this article, we delve into Foon’s background, his political career, and his notable achievements.
|Name||Meng Liu Foon|
|Born||August 1959, Gisborne, New Zealand|
|Education||Gisborne Boys’ High School, University of Waikato|
|Occupation||Politician, Race Relations Commissioner|
|Net Worth||$1 million|
|Family||Married to Ying Foon, two children|
|Political career||Mayor of Gisborne (2001-2019), Race Relations Commissioner (2019-2023)|
|Achievements||Brought economic development, social inclusion, and environmental protection to Gisborne. Promoted and protected human rights in New Zealand. Built relationships between different ethnic groups and addressed issues of racism and discrimination.|
|Controversies||Resigned from the Race Relations Commissioner role following a controversy over his financial interests.|
|Legacy||A respected figure in New Zealand politics and society. A strong advocate for social justice and equality. Made a significant contribution to the development of New Zealand’s race relations.|
Early Life and Education:
Meng Foon was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, in August 1959. He grew up in a multicultural household, with his mother, Ng Heng Kiu (Helen), hailing from Hong Kong, and his father, Liu Sui Kai (George), from Guangzhou, China. Foon’s parents were market gardeners who ran a successful vegetable shop in Gisborne. From an early age, Foon actively participated in the family business, working alongside his younger brother.
While juggling work and school, Foon developed a keen interest in languages and accents. He became fluent in English, Cantonese, and the Māori language, showcasing his dedication to understanding and embracing diverse cultures.
Foon attended Makaraka School, where he was exposed to Māori culture through activities such as flax making and the haka war dance. He later continued his education at Gisborne Intermediate School and Gisborne Boys’ High School. Foon excelled academically, studying a range of subjects, including English, social studies, the sciences, physical education, and the Māori language. Additionally, he was an active participant in rugby, representing his high school in the sport.
Meng Foon Business Career:
After leaving high school at the Sixth Form level, Foon dedicated himself to expanding his family’s market garden business. With determination and entrepreneurial spirit, he transformed the business into a successful enterprise, establishing several shops. In the 1960s, Foon and his family purchased Kaiti Mall, a significant commercial complex in Gisborne. They opened a liquor shop called TAB, catering to the diverse needs of the community.
In 1985, Foon’s parents retired and relocated to Sydney, Australia, before ultimately settling in Hong Kong. Foon, his brother, and their wives assumed responsibility for running the family business. Over the years, Foon demonstrated his astute business acumen, ensuring the continued growth and success of the market garden and Kaiti Mall ventures.
In 2018, Foon and his relatives made the decision to sell Kaiti Mall. The property, comprising land and buildings, was estimated to be worth NZ$3.8 million at the time. Kaiti Mall had become a hub for various businesses, government offices, and commercial tenants, contributing significantly to the local economy.
Local Government Career:
Meng Foon’s foray into local government began in 1995 when he stood as a councilor for the Gisborne District Council’s Patutahi Taruheru ward. Encouraged by two detectives, Foon decided to run for the position after the incumbent councilor, Owen Pinching, announced his retirement. Foon emerged victorious in the 1995 local election, marking the beginning of his political journey.
In 1998, Foon set his sights on the position of Mayor of Gisborne but was unsuccessful in his bid. However, he persevered and ran again in 2001, ultimately securing the mayoralty. During his campaign, Foon highlighted his family values, business acumen, fluency in the Māori language, and financial management skills, all of which resonated with the electorate. His victory marked a historic moment, as Foon became one of the few individuals of Chinese descent to assume the role of mayor in New Zealand.
Race Relations Commissioner:
In August 2019, Meng Foon embarked on a new chapter in his public service career as New Zealand’s race relations commissioner. Appointed by Justice Minister Andrew Little, Foon assumed the responsibility of fostering positive relations among different ethnic and cultural groups in the country. His term commenced on August 26, 2019, marking a significant milestone in his ongoing dedication to promoting inclusivity and understanding.
As race relations commissioner, Foon has actively engaged in advocating for social harmony and challenging discriminatory practices. He has been a vocal proponent of embracing diversity, emphasizing the importance of cultural acceptance and respect. Foon’s fluency in multiple languages, including Māori, has played a crucial role in bridging cultural gaps and facilitating dialogue between communities.
Furthermore, he has held the position of chair for the Gisborne/Tairawhiti Rugby League since 2007, actively fostering inclusivity and diversity within the sporting community. His involvement as a board member of the New Zealand Rugby League further demonstrates his dedication to promoting cultural exchange and unity.
Meng Foon Personal Life:
here is some information about Meng Foon’s personal life:
- He is married to Ying Foon.
- They have two children, a son and a daughter.
- They are members of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa.
- They enjoy spending time with their family and friends, and they are passionate about community service.
Meng Foon is a private person, and he does not share much about his personal life in the media. However, he has spoken about the importance of family and community in his life. He has said that his family is his “rock” and that his community is “like an extended family.”
Foon is a role model for many people in New Zealand. He is a successful businessman, a dedicated politician, and a passionate advocate for social justice. Meng Foon is also a loving husband and father. He is a respected member of New Zealand society, and he is an inspiration to many people.
Meng Foon Net Worth:
Meng Foon’s net worth is estimated to be around $1 million. He has accumulated his wealth through a successful career in business and politics. Foon is a director of several businesses, including the investment company he was involved with while serving as Race Relations Commissioner. He has also received significant income from his political career, including a salary of $200,000 per year as Mayor of Gisborne.