Elam graduate honoured with Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award

09 December 2015
Sione Faletau
Ha’amonga by award-winning artist Sione Faletau

A young New Zealand-born Tongan artist creating work that investigates identity and the struggles of a bi-cultural life has been honoured with a 2015 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards.

Sione Faletau, a recent graduate from the University of Auckland, has won the Arts & Creativity category, in recognition of his outstanding achievements.

Sione has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours (First Class) and a Master of Fine Arts (First Class) from Elam School of Fine Arts at the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries.

The South Auckland-based artist who specialises in performance and moving image works, has exhibited extensively. Sione’s recent work Ha’amonga drew on Tongan mythology to explore his relationship with his brothers.

The Arts & Creativity award comes with $10,000 to fund a paid internship or residency with a New Zealand arts organisation or to put towards an approved arts project.

Raised in Otara, the artist hopes his creative work helps others confront and conquer their struggles.

“Without experiencing adversaries and obstacles I would not have achieved what I have today. They have shaped me, made my rough edges smoother and fine-tuned me to what I have accomplished thus far,” he says.

A youth leader at his church, Sione says performing art is a great way to express stories with youth about subjects that may be difficult. He also supports the Otahuhu Tongan group during the annual Polyfest.

Currently working at the Auckland Museum, he plans to start his Doctorate in Fine Arts at Elam in 2016. His research will focus on Pacific men in New Zealand, in particular Tongan men.

Sione says his study will help him towards achieving his future aspiration of becoming a lecturer.