About us

The team helping make final footprints small
Not your usual

What makes us different

There are many reasons why Return to Sender isn’t your standard casket and urn manufacturer. Our caskets are handcrafted in New Zealand. Panels are cut with large machinery on-site for precision, before being assembled, sanded, painted and finished by hand. We’re passionate about the environment so have developed clever design techniques that maximise natural resources and minimise the use of metal.

We’re committed to leaving New Zealand better than we found it by donating a native tree for every casket made. From humble beginnings, we’re now a respected leader in eco-friendly caskets.

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Eco-friendly caskets

All our designs have the environment at their heart, choosing sustainably sourced timber, water-based finishes, eco-friendly handles and our in-house design innovations reducing the need for non-biodegradable fixtures. We pride ourselves on our environmentally friendly caskets and urns that meet the highest quality requirements.


A range to suit all styles

Our range of caskets suit every budget and style. Whichever you choose, they don’t compromise on care – for the environment, and your loved one. As New Zealand’s leading designer and manufacturer of new design caskets, we cater for the growing number of Kiwis who want more contemporary, beautiful, environmentally-friendly caskets.


Our story is about people

It was the passing away of founders Leanne and Greg Holdsworth’s fathers that first started the idea of Return to Sender. The chosen caskets didn’t accurately reflect the lives and loves of these men. Leanne and Greg spotted an opportunity to create highly personal caskets that honour both the environment and loved ones.

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How it all started...

Return to Sender began in 2007 by Greg and Leanne Holdsworth. In 2005, Leanne’s father passed away. It was then Greg first noticed how the casket, with its plastic metal-look handles and fake wood grain MDF construction, in no way matched the values of his father-in-law, who had a lifetime passion for timber.

For the final assessment of Greg’s production design degree, he decided to design a new type of casket. Simplicity, minimal and natural materials were his guiding influences: Return to Sender was born.


Meet the team

Julie Gilchrist

Business Manager
Started in 2014 and worked up through the ranks to Business Manager in 2017. Outside work, she loves rambling around the Waitakere Ranges and attempting DIY.
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Sue Hart

Factory Manager
Joined the team in 2014 on the workshop floor before becoming Factory Manager in 2017. Outside work, she loves restoring her vintage caravan and collecting miniatures.
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Affinity Griffin

Affinity began her career as a junior casket assembler nearly 3 years ago, quickly becoming an integral member of the Return to Sender family. Given her great understanding of our product range, we were delighted when she put her hand up to become the new dispatch driver aka 'face' of Return to Sender Caskets.
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Myron Ruiz

Product Developer
Joined in 2014 on the workshop floor and became Product Developer in 2017. Outside work, he’s a keen woodworker and designs interiors for a local shop.
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Billy Bichon

Snuggle Giver
Joined in 2015 and has quickly become a much-loved team member. Billy looks after us all, instinctively knowing when one of us needs special attention.
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What is important to us

We believe in creating contemporary caskets designed with the planet in mind that minimise our impact on the environment. We believe in helping families choose the most beautiful final vessel that aligns with the values of their loved one. We believe in integrity and equality and welcoming people for who they are, not what they are.


We believe in being courageous and challenging the world’s way of thinking. We believe in using our passion to energise, engage and inspire others. We believe in collaboration and that new designs and processes are always a team effort.

We believe we will never stop learning and discovering new ways to do things better.

Handcrafted from natural materials
Our range of award-winning caskets are designed with the environment in mind, helping to make your final footprint a small one.

Winning planet-friendly designs

Our design ethos puts the environment at its heart. Not only do our caskets need to be environmentally friendly, they need to be beautiful to look at and truly reflect your loved one’s personality, beliefs and lifestyle.

Our designs have the planet in mind, are beautiful to look at and celebrate your loved one’s life, personality and beliefs. We’re constantly innovating to develop new products, technology and techniques each year.


Ministry for the Environment case study

Return to Sender was the subject of a case study by the Ministry for the Environment. Focused mainly on the environmental benefits but also discusses plywood in terms of it being an iconic kiwi material, aesthetics, simplicity and social benefits derived from the low sides of the Artisan.

The report recognises that the influence of design can have benefits beyond those achieved by replacing a toxic product with an environmentally preferable one. A product that goes beyond this can become eco-iconic and help forward sustainable thinking to influence product manufacture and consumption.

View the MFE case study

Latest News


Changing the narrative

16 September 2020
Copy of the Return to Sender Caskets article in the September 2020 issue of Verve Magazine.
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Tree planting in Paeroa

12 June 2020
Return to Sender joined Goldfields Special School to plant natives along the Ohinemuri River, Paeroa.
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The long and the short of it

17 April 2020
Return to Sender has added a new size to our Archetype, Woodhill and Fernwood caskets to accommodate the popul...
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More sustainable than ever

17 March 2020
Return to Sender is proud to have made the bold move away from Rimu and replace all existing Rimu caskets with...
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Upcycling sawdust

04 December 2019
Return to Sender strives to minimise waste. Helps us, help you with free sawdust
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Submissions open to update the Burial & Cremation Act 1964

18 November 2019
On Friday, the Ministry of Health opened a consultation on modernising New Zealand's laws around death, burial...
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UK Funeral trends

16 October 2019
United Kingdom's CO-OP FuneralCare directors have recorded trends of 500,000 funerals conducted in the last fi...
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Importance of grief, mourning and funerals

19 September 2019
Your loved one may have gone, but you are still here. A funeral can be personalised for your loved one; they m...
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New ‘Return to Sender’ truck

30 August 2019
Look out of our new truck on the road
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Growing our future – Tree planting

The amazing Hikurangi Primary School kids and a very supportive and encouraging staff planted almost 1,000 nat...
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