PM apologises Grace Millane family

RNZ Wellington, December 11, 2018

Grace Millane (Picture Supplied)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made an emotional apology to the family of the 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane.

A 26-year-old man charged with her murder appeared in the Auckland District Court on Monday, December 10, 2018.

Ms Ardern said she could not imagine the grief that her family would be going through.

Overwhelming shame

As she spoke to media at her weekly post-cabinet news conference, Ms Ardern became visibly upset as she said sorry to Ms Millane’s family.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at her Press Conference on December 10, 2018 
(RNZ Picture Rebekah Parsons-King)

“From the Kiwis I have spoken to there is this overwhelming sense of shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on its hospitality, on its manaakitanga, especially to those who are visiting our shores.

“So on behalf of New Zealand I want to apologise to Grace’s family: Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn’t and I’m sorry for that.”

Support offered

Ms Ardern said she had advised the family through the Police that if there was anything the government could do to assist, it was there to help.

Ms Millane, who went missing on the eve of her 22nd birthday, was last seen last Saturday night going into CityLife Hotel with a man.

The man was with Ms Millane at several places, including SkyCity, before going to CityLife Hotel with her.

A body was discovered on Sunday afternoon (December 9), in an area of bush just 10 m off the road, in Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges. The body has been removed the scene and is yet to be formally identified, but Police believe it is the backpacker.

Disgusted, embarrassed

A Titirangi resident said he was disgusted and embarrassed this had happened in New Zealand.

A tribute to Grace Millane at Titirangi Roundabout (Picture for RNZ by Maxine Jacobs)

“I have a daughter and I have granddaughters who have been to Europe and South America and they came home. This girl didn’t come home – and that’s sad.”

He said that young women should be able to travel around the world without the fear of being attacked.

The 26-year-old accused of murdering Ms Millane between December 1 and December 2, appeared at the Court dressed in a blue boiler suit.

The Court heard extensive submissions on interim name suppression, but Judge Thomas declined to grant it.

Man in custody

The accused’s lawyer Ian Brookie indicated he would appeal, prohibiting media from identifying the accused in the meantime.

He has been remanded in custody until he appears in court in January.

However, some media outlets have identified the accused online, including a photograph, before taking the articles down.

Police are reminding people that it is an offence to breach name suppression and that includes naming someone on social media.

One of Ms Millane’s brothers has paid tribute to his sister, posting a series of photos of himself with her online, captioned with the lyrics to the song You Are My Sunshine.

Declan Millane’s tribute joined a stream of others online, including from the University of Lincoln where Ms Millane had graduated before heading off to travel the world.

A candlelit vigil will be held in central Auckland tomorrow (Wednesday, December 12) to honour the memory Ms Millane.

The organisers say it will be a gathering to remember all the women killed in Auckland and across the country this year.

People wishing to attend are being asked to meet in Federal Street.

Another vigil, supported by White Ribbon, will be held today (December 11) at 7 pm at St Patrick’s Square.

In Queenstown, a candlelit vigil was held for Grace Millane yesterday (at 7 pm in front of The Bathhouse.

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