Meng Foon new race relations commissioner: fluent in te reo Māori

In fact, he’s fluent in four languages: Māori, Seyip, Cantonese and English, and he’s learning Mandarin. His reo has been a huge asset in his 18 years as the Mayor of Gisborne, helping him reach out to the 43% Māori population of the east-coast city.

And Foon is a strong advocate for more people learning te reo, telling Kiwese in a 2015 interview that he “believe[s] Māori should be compulsory in schools.” His degree in Iwi Environmental Management also enhances his connection to the Māori worldview. He said in a statement, “I use this mauri to encompass every aspect of my life.”