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Beautifying everyday environments key for Pasifika artist 

10 Mar 2022

“Art is my passion and it’s what makes me happy.”

For Pasifika artist Rowena Rooney that passion for art and creating dates back as long as she can remember. She recalls creating art throughout her early childhood – “My mother told me I used to draw on the walls with crayons” – and then at school, before developing it into a career. 


Rowena loves the movement and texture corrugated iron brings to artworks. This torch flower is painted using Resene White, Resene Calypso, Resene Bilbao, Resene Buttermilk, Resene Moonbeam, Resene Roadster, Resene Guardsman Red and Resene bright Red.

As well as working on commissions, for clients both in New Zealand and overseas, through her business, Blue Turtle Design, Rowena works as a specialist visual arts teacher, passing that artistic passion on to students of all ages, teaching them skills in drawing, painting, printing, glass, clay ceramics and mosaic.

Rowena’s work is often found in schools and she particularly loves working with students to get them involved in beautifying their everyday environment. Rowena was born in west Auckland and grew up in Te Atatu North, but remains extremely connected to her Fijian heritage, which is strongly reflected in her art.


A beautiful mural celebrating the natural environment at Rutherford Preschool, Te Atatu Peninsula uses Resene Dell, Resene Dizzy Lizzy, Resene Calypso, Resene Broom, Resene Supernova, Resene Buttermilk, Resene Curious Blue, Resene  Malibu, Resene Lochmara, Resene Lipstick and Resene Belladonna.

 Though mosaic with a Pasifika theme is one of her preferred mediums, Rowena works with a large variety of materials, from sculpture in Oamaru stone and paua fish, to painting wall murals and beautiful designs painted onto corrugated iron. 

The common inspirations for most of her work come from the natural environment and she regularly uses paints from Resene’s large colour selection to bring them to life.


 Rowena Rooney with a beautiful mural of Tāmaki Makaurau she painted at BestStart preschool on Te Atatu Peninsula. The mural uses Resene Nero, Resene Dell, Resene Calypso, Resene Dizzy Lizzy, Resene Kaitoke Green, Resene Roadster,Resene Supernova, Resene Spray, Resene Resolution Blue, Resene Malibu, Resene Endeavour, Resene Pumice and Resene Daredevil.

 “I have always used Resene colours for their vibrancy and user-friendly testpots which are normally my go-to, depending on the size of what I’m painting,” Rowena says. “I am so familiar with names of the colours that I use, which makes it so much more personal to me when I’m creating. And I’m always confident I will find the colours I need.”


A tuatara sculpture in progress at Te Matauranga School in Clendon painted in Resene Resolution BlueResene Guardsman Red and Resene Kingfisher Daisy to complement the surrounding buildings.

She particularly loves working with corrugated iron, because it’s such an iconic New Zealand material, she says. “It’s a bumpy surface that adds movement and texture and it fits beautifully amongst the natural environments and gardens that I paint for, to beautify an outdoor environment with vibrant colour.”


Rowena painted this vibrant seat structure to house Te Matauranga School’s hydroponic garden in Clendon. For the finished Pasifika themed design she used Resene Supernova, Resene Dizzy Lizzy, Resene Calypso, Resene Resolution Blue, Resene Endeavour, Resene California, Resene Daredevil, Resene Retro and Resene Red Berry.


Bold colours bring Rowena’s Fruit Salad corrugated iron work, completed for a private commission, to life. It’s painted in Resene Nero, Resene Red Berry, Resene Guardsman Red, Resene Broom, Resene Daredevil, Resene Calypso, Resene Kaitoke Green, Resene Resolution Blue, Resene Malibu and Resene Melting Moment.


This bold corrugated iron Red Hibiscus uses Resene Nero, Resene White, Resene Bright Red, Resene Broom, Resene Daredevil, Resene Kingfisher Daisy and Resene Malibu.


Painted strips of woven steel in Resene Broom, Resene Resolution Blue, Resene Lochmara, Resene Kingfisher Daisy, Resene Red Berry, Resene Roadster, Resene Dizzy Lizzy, Resene Belladonna  and to make a dramatic exterior wall sculpture at Te Matauranga School in Clendon.

Find out more about Rowena’s art:  @_blueturtledesign on Instagram


Published: 10 Mar 2022