Resene – History In The Painting

From garage workshop to national institution – Verve takes a quick look at the history behind one of New Zealand’s most successful homegrown companies.


Way back in 1946, Wellington builder Ted Nightingale faced a dilemma. Needing an alkali-resistant paint to protect his concrete buildings, but with nothing available on the commercial market, he set about developing his own.


Using an old cement mixer – and a lot of initiative and determination – Stipple coat was born in Ted’s garage. It more than served its purpose and, as fellow builders caught on to the concept and requests for the product grew, he began commercial production of his new paint. To keep up with demand, he had to move to factory space on Wellington’s Tinakori Road, where he went on to manufacture other products.


The Resene brand name was derived from the main ingredient in Ted’s paints – resin – and was launched at the same time as the first waterborne paint. Resene expanded rapidly during the late 1950s and early 1960s, and despite developing a line of solventborne products, waterborne paints remained the firm’s staple.

Ted’s son, Tony, became managing director and took over company operations in 1972.


Production was once again moved to larger premises, this time on an industrial estate in Gracefield in Lower Hutt, increasing factory space and allowing greater production volume, and the key marketing strategy of selling and distributing through their own dedicated outlets was developed. They also developed a team of their own salespeople trained to sell directly to trades all over New Zealand.


International markets also beckoned. A presence in the South Pacific in 1965, with an office in Fiji, and Australia in 1990, were established. Today, the company is a household name – known for its environmentally friendly products, its total colour system, and handy testpots.


All products are still developed in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions by the firm’s own technical team. Manufacturing facilities remain at Naenae and Upper Hutt, with paint supplied to Resene ColorShops, resellers and stockists nationwide.


Yep, it’s a true Kiwi success story!