02 March 2023
4 min read
In these times of increased uncertainty, more people are looking to create a connection with their place of origin, and this can manifest in many ways. Companies like Island Stone have found it is driving demand for its lightweight New Zealand stone cladding product.
“It might sound a bit grandiose,” says Peter Flint, owner of Island Stone NZ Ltd, “but there’s a solidity and a sureness about natural stone that customers seek.
“And the fact that it’s New Zealand stone, that it has come from deep within the ground of our own country - it’s part of our story, and that makes it pretty special. It gives it meaning.”
Island Stone processes a range of New Zealand stones into a lightweight cladding, allowing customers to feature local stone in their projects - whether a new build or a renovation, residential or commercial.
It all started 12 years ago. Having been in the natural stone industry for nearly 5 years, Peter wondered whether there was much of an offering in New Zealand stone as a thinner, lighter-weight cladding.
That curiosity led Peter to source some local schist and hire a saw while on a family holiday in the South Island. His wife Michelle remembers it well.
“We were staying at his parents’ whitebaiting bach on the south coast,” she says. “I was keeping our three young kids entertained down by the river while Pete was cutting up stone in the backyard!”
Peter was encouraged by that initial experimentation, and following 24 months of product development and testing, the company’s first lightweight stone cladding product was brought to market.
One of the team’s early projects was to supply and install over 3,000 square metres of Central Otago schist at the Hilton Hotel in Queenstown up to heights of 15 metres - an unforgettable project for Peter.
“It had pretty much everything,” he recalls. “A large international customer, one of the most well-known hotel brands in the world, a significant quantity to supply and install, and working at heights.”
And all on an extremely busy commercial site. “There were a few sleepless nights!”
But it proved to the Island Stone team and the outside world that they were on to something with their lightweight New Zealand stone cladding solution.
These days Island Stone processes and supplies a range of schists from Central Otago and Westland. Their limestone offering extends from the Central North Island to just north of Raglan as well as Charleston on the West Coast of the South Island.
Peter says customers come to Island Stone primarily because they want something local in their build. “It feels like the more the world opens up, the more people want to be anchored to where they come from,” he says. “And there’s nothing more anchoring than stone!
“Whether it’s a feature fireplace or a full house cladding, there’s such a permanence about it; it’s there for generations to come.”
With reduced engineering requirements, the lighter-weight cladding can be more readily used for renovations as well as new builds. “It’s pretty costly to put footings in retrospectively,” says Peter, “This isn’t required with our cladding”.
At a nominal 40mm thickness, it’s also spatially efficient, which has its advantages – “especially on smaller sites or refurbishments where room size is predetermined”.
And it’s more than just the stone itself. Peter and his team have developed and tested a complete system that includes installing the watertight substrate to the execution of a quality, high-end cladding solution.
All of Island Stone’s cladding products are paired with extensive documentation detailing how the product can be specified and installed with the company’s cladding system.
Despite the increasing demand for their New Zealand stone cladding keeping the Island Stone team busy, there is more to come, says Peter.
“Seeing people’s love of the end result and the beautiful raw material we work with only whets our appetite to develop more local stone offerings.”
While continuing to provide a quality product and service regarding their existing range, it’s very much a case of ‘watch this space’.