The vibrant Freemans Bay School, re-designed and renewed by RTA Studio led by architect Moshin Mussa, not only won the Education Primary Category Award but also took home the big prize at the 2018 Resene Total Colour Awards.

The RTA Studio team have chosen groupings of colour to reference Maori culture and the school’s proud multi-cultural heritage.

“The cladding panels are painted in rich and vibrant colours to encompass the school’s diverse cultural community and the children’s different ethnic backgrounds,” says Mussa.

He says blue Resene paint colours are used on the Whānau Ata Library to express the sea. Greens are used for the admin building to reference the forest. An orange palette is used for the Learning House for sunrise and reds are used for the School Hall to reference the earth.

The site contained existing 1960s school buildings, playing fields, and car parking. To make way for the new development, all existing buildings apart from one were removed.

Mussa says colour is a relatively cost-effective way to bring a project to life.

“We used colour to characterise the school’s identity and also to enhance the architecture. Resene paint colours were selected as they best represented our conceptual design ideas. They proved to be exactly what the school was after and we’ve had  numerous comments from visitors and from community members on how striking the colours are.”

Nick Nightingale of Resene commends the way New Zealand schools incorporate colour into their design.


“The vibrant use of colour in the architecture of New Zealand schools is among the most exciting we see at Resene, and RTA Studio’s Freemans Bay School is no exception. Even the paint names chosen for the project have aligned with the project’s design sentiment. Resene Discover and Resene Energise point to the learning taking place in these spaces. And Resene Kakapo and Resene Pohutukawa point to some of the themes,” says Nightingale.

“We congratulate RTA Studio and the Ministry of Education for their masterful way of using colour to tell the Freemans Bay School story.”


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