Series Classification: PG (Parental Guidance)
In many ways, Meng Foon represents the future. Bridging the gap between tangata whenua and tangata Tiriti, through his work life and private life, Meng offers a version of Aotearoa inconceivable to many of his own generation. Meng, a one hour-long bilingual documentary follows the former Gisborne mayor and current Race Relations Commissioner as he navigates a very public role at a national level after 18 years in local politics.
This documentary takes us through the ups and downs of a momentous year; amidst COVID lockdowns, one widely circulated and retracted controversy, a cycling accident, and a wedding anniversary, there is a constant clash of the personal and the political, and a man just contemplating what it means to confront old age.
Fulfilling his new public service role while negotiating relationships on a micro level within communities, means we see many different sides to one man. “I was fascinated by Meng’s ability to navigate multiple worlds”, co-director Steven Chow says. Co-director Julie Zhu adds, “Meng can be polarising, with almost as many critics as supporters. It is rare to find older tauiwi/non-Māori who are vocal about being tangata Tiriti, who champion the rights of tangata whenua.
We hope this documentary helps to normalise the role of tauiwi in being loud advocates for tino rangatiratanga and kaupapa Māori, and encourages more non-Māori to follow Meng’s lead.” Asking questions about what can be done to ensure the world we are moving towards is better and brighter than the one before, Meng shows us the public face of what so many of us have to negotiate within our own homes and workplaces, and the private side of a man associated with a very particular kind of hope.
NZ politician who served as the mayor of Gisborne from 2001 to 2019. Since August 2019, he has been New Zealand's race relations commissioner. He is one of a handful of people of Chinese descent to have become a mayor in New Zealand. He is fluent in English, Cantonese and Māori. Meng has several interests outside of politics including writing waiata, some of which feature in the documentary.
Julie Zhu - Co-Director/Co-Producer/DOP
Born in Xi’an, China and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Julie Zhu is a filmmaker and storyteller committed to championing marginalised voices and stories. Julie co-directs and co-hosts the podcast and docu-series Conversations With My Immigrant Parents for RNZ and directed the observational documentary series Takeout Kids for The Spinoff. She was one of the directors on anthology feature film Kāinga which premiered at NZIFF and MIFF. She has a Diploma of Language in Te Reo Māori and completed Aupikitanga and Pīnakitanga at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Steven Chow - Co-Director/Co-Producer
Steven Chow is a 1st generation Chinese New Zealander with over 20 years experience working as an editor in Aotearoa. Steven’s work has seen him work across a range of genres from commercials, documentaries, primetime factual shows, to many notable Māori language shows such as Waka Huia and Pūkana. Steven is also a passionate filmmaker with a collection of festival short films. His Masters thesis short film, Munkie has gone on to screen at a number of international festivals.