Rotorua palette

"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.

This colour palette has been developed as part of the Shore to Mainstreet Project in conjunction with local artists with the goal of "every colour

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:

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.

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