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The Rotorua palette

Regional and special colour palettes

"A great feeling of pride can be engendered amongst the people of a city if they can see a reflection of their history and cultural environment in the physical fabric of the city." – Grahame Hall, Rotorua Mayor, Jan 2003.

The Rotorua District Council is proposing to introduce 'Rotorua City Design Principles' to guide appropriate development within the CBD. This includes guidance on aspects such as the building façade and verandahs, as well as a colour palette. The important consideration is to ensure that new development is of quality, and that it fits within the established streetscape.

The use of colour on buildings in the city has a significant impact on the streetscape. Rotorua is a natural wonderland of geothermal activity, New Zealand native bush and beautiful lakes. This natural beauty is underpinned by a strong Maori heritage and sense of pride in this unique place. The Rotorua colour palette has been developed to reflect those important influences on Rotorua. It focuses on bush and heritage greens, earthy browns, greys and terracottas, bright reds associated with Maori tradition through to the deeper maroons associated with heritage schemes. Pinks and purples are noticeably absent from the palette as it is believed that these are not part of the true Rotorua identity.


Three general recommendations to bear in mind when developing a colour scheme:

  1. Paint the building in pale colours (creams/neutrals)
  2. Highlight building features, elements and architectural details in a contrasting darker or brighter colour.
  3. Use colours from the Rotorua Palette.

Particular care must be taken when a building is bulky and featureless and when large plain surfaces are visible to the public. Expanses of wall, unbroken by windows or doors, can have a detrimental effect on the streetscape if they are painted in colours that are out of character with the rest of the street, such as very dark colours or white (which can become grubby or produce glare).

Other factors to bear in mind when selecting colours and products:

  • Consider treatment of the surfaces to enable easy graffiti removal.

  • Choose colours sympathetic to neighbouring buildings.

  • Choose colours that recognise the context of the building. If the building is on a corner site, its surfaces will be highly visible. This building will already be prominent and a colour scheme that enables the building to sit back rather than stand out will achieve a better fit within its environment.

  • Consider the era of the building. Pastel colours can be effective for contemporary buildings and pre-1930 buildings are well suited to more traditional colour schemes.

  • Some colours naturally co-ordinate well together to create a pleasing effect whilst other colours are discordant when placed together.

  • Avoid large amounts of bright colours such as bright red, blue, pink or green. These colours make a building stand out and say 'look at me'. There are other ways to draw attention to a business, such as window display and effective signage. Bolder colours can be incorporate into a colour scheme to accent building detail and provide a contrast against a more neutral backdrop.

  • Avoid corporate colour schemes in the central CBD. Elements of a corporate colour scheme can be introduced without dominating a building.

  • Elsewhere in the CBD, consider toning down corporate colour schemes.

Note that there are always exceptions to a pastel or neutral colour scheme: an unexpected colour scheme can be effective and become a valued and appreciated part of the streetscape. This is usually achieved through co-ordination of the building's signage, detailing and colours and consideration of the building's context and use. It is recommended that professionals such as artists, architects, landscape architects or colour consultants are employed.

All colours are drawn from the Resene Total Colour System, available at Resene ColorShops. A4 samples of all Rotorua Palette colours are available for viewing at the Resene ColorShop in Rotorua.

Click here to view the Rotorua Colour Palette.

These colours are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.

Resene regional and special colour palettes
As well as all the normal colour charts we release, Resene also has the ability to make and display custom colour palettes too.

View all palettes

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.

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