New Race Relations Commissioner 'walks in many worlds' - Justice Minister

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Outgoing Gisborne mayor Meng Foon will begin the new role in August. Source: 1 NEWS

Newly appointed Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon "walks in many worlds", says Justice Minister Andrew Little after the outgoing Gisborne mayor was appointed today. 

"He's a fluent speaker of te reo, he’s grown up in the Pakeha world as well and a world of business. He walks in the Chinese community, and their world.

"He's one of those personalities that reaches out to all communities in New Zealand," Mr Little said. 

Mr Foon, who would take up his new appointment on August 26, would be responsible for leading the work of the Human Rights Commission in promoting positive race relations.

"It's a great honour," Mr Foon told 1 NEWS this morning. "I'm absolutely delighted to be appointed the race relations commissioner."

Mr Foon said he wanted to build on the work and energy of the past commissioners, "and meet the communities at the coal-face and listen to what their concerns are and listen to their solutions as well".

"He’s a community leader," Mr Little said. 

When asked how Mr Foon should be approaching race relation issues in New Zealand in his capacity, Mr Little said he should be "calling out things as he sees it – where the Government can do more or hasn’t done enough". 

"Likewise in the community where there are tensions and issues, I’m totally confident he will be able to step up and provide the kind of leadership I think New Zealanders expect of someone in this role."