When Meng Foon stood down as mayor of Gisborne after 18 years in 2019, he was Aotearoa's only mayor to be fluent in te reo Māori. In this subtitled te reo documentary, Gisborne locals praise Foon's ability to walk in both the Māori and Pākehā world. Kaumatua Charlie Pera admits some Māori were initially hesitant about a Chinese person speaking te reo, but they were soon won over by Foon's passion for their language and tikanga, and his advocacy of their issues. Foon, who was raised in Gisborne to market gardener parents, became Race Relations Commissioner in late 2019.
The Māori way is different to the Pākehā way. Meng’s talent is his ability to use his words so that he treads easily. That is his skill. Meng is of the new world and of the old world. He can communicate with the elders and the children on the street.– Tā moko artist Derek Lardelli
Made with funding from Te Māngai Pāho