Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon says can understand some of the concern over a proposal to settle refugees in the Whanganui district - he got a similar one in Gisborne.
Foon, who will be in Whanganui today as part of Race Unity Day, was the mayor of Gisborne for 18 years, and has been New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner since August.
When he said on his Facebook page he was in favour of Gisborne hosting refugees, he got a lot of comments.
"People said 'Well what about us? We haven't got houses and jobs and health services'."
After that he thought it would be better for to hold off for a while.
A February 2019 announcement that Whanganui would take up to 110 refugees a year was made before consultation with iwi.
As a result, Ken Mair stopped the refugee resettlement workshops at a meeting in July.
Mair told the meeting he had nothing against refugees but his own people had unmet needs for housing, jobs and health services.
The Whanganui situation results from the failure of a Government department, Immigration New Zealand, to consult properly, Foon said.
The department will now be talking to iwi "after the horse has bolted".
"There's a Crown-Māori unit now dedicated to that. It probably needs a bit of review to make sure that things do happen," Foon said.
New Zealand has upped its annual intake of refugees to 1500 a year, and some may miss out due to some reluctance to host them in Whanganui.
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Foon has been to the Māngere Refugee Resettlement Centre, and said it was like a first class residential area, with warm, modern houses, wonderful playgrounds and supportive staff and volunteers.
"If I was a refugee and came to Māngere I would just say 'Wow. Awesome. Thank you New Zealand'."
He is coming to Whanganui on Saturday, March 14, for a Race Unity Day organised by the Multicultural Council of Rangitīkei/Whanganui.
There will be a 9.30am pōwhiri near the Whanganui River Markets, a tour of the markets and lunch and activities in the UCOL atrium before he leaves just after midday.
"I'm looking forward to meeting new people, and reacquainting with old friends," Foon said.
He already knows Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall and has been to Whanganui before, for a Māori farming event, and had a trip on the Whanganui River.
He believes better decisions would be made in this district if the council and Crown and Māori were talking to each other.
"It would definitely enhance the decision-making and help wellbeing and connection of iwi to council."
Gisborne District Council has six Māori councillors, and the Bay of Plenty's regional council benefits from three Māori seats. It was unfortunate former New Plymouth mayor Andrew Judd didn't manage to establish a Māori ward there, Foon said.
"You are chucking out good value."
He said Māori input needs to be more than advisory, it needs to be about co-designing.
"It's really about you have got tāngata whenua in your area and it's really important for them to be at the decision-making table."
Foon is loving his new job and is very busy.
On March 15 he will be in Christchurch, on the first anniversary of the mosque shootings that killed 51 people. He'll be checking whether more support is needed, either for the city's Muslim community or for others caught up in the tragic event.
Foon wants police to monitor the internet and act quickly when they see alt-right activity and hate speech. He met with .nz this week, to talk about how it can deal with hate speech on its websites.
"We need to know whether alt-right activity is increasing, in order to keep a lid on it," he said.
"I would strongly urge Government to make hate crime legislation like there is in 12 other OECD countries, including Australia. We need to lift our game here."
He will also be lobbying Justice Minister Andrew Little for a national action plan against racism.