US-based Tongan artist wins NZ arts residency

Tongan artist Vaimoana Niumeitolu has been awarded this year's international arts residency by New Zealand's Tautai Pacific Trust.

The New York-based actor, poet and artist is currently in Auckland and says she is honoured to be recognised for her work.

Niumeitolu has completed 24 community murals in Australia, Kenya, Jordan, New Zealand, Palestine, South Africa and in the United States: California, New York (Brooklyn and the Bronx) and Utah.

She will be in New Zealand for a month as part of her residency.

Niumeitolu said she is also proud to be in the country to celebrate Tongan Language Week which ends this weekend.

"My cousin took me to her son's elementary school the other night. It was the Samoan community, the Tongan community and the Niuean community.

"Not only learning Tongan, but also talking about how important our languages are. How exciting was that to be in that conversation?"

Vaimoana Niumeitolu said she will be holding an art exhibition in Auckland later this month.