Log In

Reset Password

Goodbye, haere ra, zoi gin

“We have achieved a lot together.”

That was the message from Mayor Meng Foon to Gisborne District Council as he chaired his last district council meeting yesterday.

Mr Foon, who is taking up a new role as Race Relations Commissioner, said when he considered what he wanted to achieve on the council it was to “make our place a better place for future generations”.

He was honoured to have been elected by the community for 24 years and was “absolutely blessed” to have six wonderful councils with him as mayor.

He wanted to ensure his leadership was not dictatorial; one in which everybody had a say, he said.

“We have achieved a lot together over the 24 years. To each and every one of you, I have enjoyed our comradeship, your honesty and your point of view.

“It was great to have a debate around the council to get the best results for our community.

“You are a tremendous group of councillors. Your heart is in the right place and I wish you all the best for the elections (local body elections in October).”

He praised the five chief executives with who he had worked.

He had special praise for wife Ying, who he said had been a great supporter.

“We have always been happy,” he said.

“I tell her not to read the paper. It is not easy to read what people are saying sometimes.

“I want to say ‘my darling, thank you for your support over the years, thank you for our kids’.”

He also acknowledged his wider family and his parents.

Staff, PAs, iwi, mentors acknowledgedThere were only three times he had used his casting vote as mayor — to reappoint Bob Elliott as chief executive for continuity and local knowledge; to go ahead with the wastewater plant, which he said was the right thing for future generations; and to go to Whitby in support of a contingent of Tolaga Bay students.

He thanked the staff for their hard work and diligence and community support and his three deputy mayors — Margaret Thorpe, Nona Aston and Rehette Stoltz.

Mr Foon also thanked his personal assistants — Philippa Brown-Bayliss, Audrey Coomber and Coral Dunn — for looking after him, straightening his tie and making sure he did not eat too much.

He acknowledged the iwi in Tairawhiti.

“From when I was a child they have been the backbone of our business and they have been the backbone in staunch support for me in my role as Mayor.

Mr Foon acknowledged those who had passed on including Rutene Irwin, councillor and mentor Owen Pinching and Marshall Savidge.

It was always great to have a mentor and pass on their wisdom, he said.

The late Apirana Mahuika was an absolute gentleman, whose key advice was to go and talk “face-to-face” to build relationships with people.

Mr Foon said that morning he had talked to protestors (a group of iwi protesting about freshwater allocation) outside the chambers. He told them the council had an open door policy and welcomed the challenge of all issues.

He had enjoyed serving the community and would enjoy serving again in his new role as Race Relations Commissioner.

END OF MENG’S ERA: Meng Foon handed over the mayoral robe and chains to Gisborne’s new mayor Rehette Stoltz at Mr Foon’s last day on the job yesterday. Mr Foon, who is fluent in English, Cantonese and Maori, said his aim over his 24 years on the council had been “to make our place a better place for future generations”. Picture by Paul Rickard