Maya has a stunning smile that lights up the room as she signs enthusiastically to those around her – often giving the thumbs up sign and giggling while wielding the paintbrush with aplomb.

Taking a break from her painting, she runs outside into the dappled late afternoon sunlight to make the most of the surrounding fragrant herbs and flowers, and can’t resist climbing up a nearby tree to get a better view.

This environment is vastly different to her original homeland in Bhutan. Thirty-six-year-old Maya, her mother and five sisters came to New Zealand via Nepal, where they had spent 19 years in a refugee camp before being resettled in Christchurch.

Maya is proving to be a highly creative artist and, as well as creating mirrored glass and ceramic mosaics, today she’s joined others at one of her favourite Community Choice activities - art classes at the Avice Hill Arts and Crafts Centre in Memorial Avenue. Here her project team is helping restore and repaint a Māori-inspired large carved panel.

Back home her room is full of colouring books and a large number of felt pens. She’s also an avid knitter and has begun a wool blanket for her young niece. She loves to help with the tasks of keeping the household running. As well as creative pursuits, she has literally taken to the local pool like a duck to water, proving to be a strong swimmer. Now settled into her new home, she’s looking at volunteer work options – where she will share with the wider community her beautiful and infectious smile.