Lifestone – New Zealand designed and produced Sustainable Memorial Stones
Lifestone is a Māori social enterprise looking to craft high strength memorial stones from sustainable materials to lower the carbon footprint by reducing the import of granite memorial stones, and to create jobs in NZ. The stones are made from domestic sustainable materials resulting in a lower carbon footprint compared with importing granite and marble mostly from India and China, but as far away as Norway.
LifeStone contacted the New Zealand Product Accelerator because of their awareness of the expertise in materials and manufacturing process research with a commercial focus.
Several discussions took place between LifeStone and NZPA in order to define the right approach to delivering the project. A collaborative approach was taken throughout, and included numerous meetings with technology partners including researchers from other UoA Faculties, to do the antimicrobial and mold and fungus growth on fabricated stones with and without lab-tested coatings.
The surface of the stone needed engraving and aesthetic finish was important in these developments. Functionalization trials with a stone mix were carried out after durability and compression strength tests. All objectives were achieved with the combined experience of the team.
The project was made possible through the funding under the Getting Started grant from Callaghan Innovation.
The project was delivered by UoA researchers from the New Zealand Product Accelerator and has resulted in prototype memorial stones, successfully tested in the field.
LifeStone as a material was considered by the board of Mangere Lawn Cemetery in late 2020, and on the weight of evidence, intent and NZPA expert contributions during the headstone acceptability Hui, LifeStone as a material was approved for use as headstone material in the Cemetery. LifeStone has also received formal written approval for LifeStone as a material for headstones, plaques and memorials from Whangarei, Auckland, South Waikato, Gisborne and Porirua district councils to assist with their carbon neutral goals and to offer New Zealanders, a New Zealand based memorial option. They are now in the process of notifying all regional councils of the availability of LifeStone as a domestic headstone option for use across the country.
The project outcomes will contribute to environmental benefits, societal benefits and economic benefits.
Dain Guttenbeil, Director of LifeStone, said “As you can see below with our development and use of new technologies with domestic resources, these stones are beautiful and crafted right here in Aotearoa! I think even though not all things went to plan due to covid, the LifeStone and Product Accelerator example is one of a great success”.
NZPA and LifeStone are currently working together on a project, sustainable and durable memorial stones by further strengthening and functionalization of surfaces with innovative coating technologies and manufacturing methodologies.