At the time of the Symonds Street Cemetery, most of the headstones, monuments and cast-iron railings for grave surrounds were imported.
These heavy items made useful ballast for sailing ships on outward voyages to the young colony.
Also, there were no foundries (to cast the iron elements), and few funerary craftsmen (to sculpt the monuments) in New Zealand in that era.
It was usual for blank headstones to be imported, and the lead metal inlay of names and inscriptions to be done by 'letter cutters' in Auckland.
The imported items for the cemeteries were sourced through extensive illustrated catalogues. The catalogues also contained many options for timber elements, such as decorative posts or picket fence railings - but these were mainly of New Zealand timber.
The sources for the headstone materials were varied: marble came fom Italy, England and the Transvaal (South Africa); granite from Scotland and Sweden; sandstone from Tasmania. They were distributed by British companies around the colonies.
The cemeteries at Symonds Street were served by at least four monumental masons (Messrs McNab, Mason, Parkinsonand Bouskill), all of them located in the upper Queen Street/Karangahape Road area.
An exception to the use of stone and iron was the kauri timber used as fence posts and railings for grave surrounds.