Christchurch company turns cremated ashes into stones

More than 60 percent of New Zealanders now choose cremation over burial. But what to do with the ashes? A Christchurch company has the answer. 

Reterniti is offering what it believes is a world-first - a service where the cremated ashes of people's loved ones are turned into stones. 

There are now numerous alternatives to burying your loved one. Actor Luke Perry went to Heaven in a compostable mushroom suit, while journalist Hunter S Thompson was shot out of a canon.

But many families want something a bit more tangible. 

Reterniti takes pets' ashes and turns them into stones. Now, Tracy Austin's done the same with her mother.  

"I was Mum's shadow, my whole life I was always tagging along behind her. A very caring lady and clearly loved her children. She loved attention, so I think she'd be thrilled that we have actually gone to the effort to think about what she would have liked," Austin told The Project.

Reterniti is making the stones in collaboration with Callaghan Innovation, in a process inspired by ceramics.

"What we try to do for Reterniti stones was minimise the amount of foreign material that's introduced to the process to try and make it so that as much of material given to us ends up in the stone itself. So limiting ourselves to very few additives, but mostly pressure and heat," Callaghan Innovation Principal Scientist Karl Dahm said. "We never imagined we'd be dealing with that sort of material when we got it, most of our engineers and scientists never worked with that before."

Finally, Austin's Mum gets a tranquil resting place.

"I've always known Mum wanted to go to Treasure Island in Fiji it was her life long dream, this way mum can sit in the sun for as long as she likes," Austin said. "So we are just going to take this to Fiji instead and have a little family ceremony."

Managing director of Reterniti Peter Russell said the idea came from thinking there must be a better way to interact with deceased love ones.

He thinks most people will be for the idea.

"These days most of us are getting cremated, yet most of us don't know what to do with the ashes," Russell told The Project. "This is a more modern way of interacting with a lost love one."

He said some people will get multiple smaller stones to be placed in different, meaningful locations.

"It's almost like a bucket list after you've departed," Russell said.

Rest assured, Russell said every stone is carefully hand made and separate from other stones - so it won't have bits of dogs or cats inside it.