Aug. 31, 2020, 2:49 p.m.
After a string of deaths in his whānau and first-hand experience of the monument industry, Dain Guttenbeil and his wife Susana were inspired to bring change to mark those who have passed.
His whānau spent 13 thousand dollars on a headstone which raised concerning questions. He discovered the taonga they had purchased was from either India or China and was not carved by a stonemason, unravelling the truth behind the monument sector.
“There're children working in quarries with jackhammers with jandals on and their life expectancy is 35 so it makes you think, there's no honour in our loved ones if children are the sacrifice. Being Māori, it’s a taonga to represent the life we lost."
“There are very few Māori/ Pasifika in the monumental mason sector and the continual feedback was Māori and Pasifika are our cash cows, we will not welcome you in if you threaten that. We don’t even know how colonised we are. How many people see us as prey because Māori and Pasifika are the ones putting money into headstones and they're coming from India.”
The headstones created by LifeStone come with a full high definition image with the digital capability to store audio and images. The markers cost as little as $900 which means whānau are not going into debt and alleviating some of the pressure that comes with ensuring their loved ones have a monument to represent them.
“We’re happy to serve our communities and experience the difference it makes and the legacy it's going to leave and that we can see the switch from pain and grief. It's seeing the healing that we can turn pain into something positive.”