News, Culture & Society

‘Behalf New Zealand, sorry’: NZ PM tearful apology family of killed British backpacker Grace Millane

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held back tears as she apologised on behalf of her country to the family of murdered British tourist Grace Millane.

In her emotional apology, Ms Ardern said her nation feels a collective shame over the young woman’s death.

Ms Millane’s body was found by police on the outskirts of Auckland on Sunday after she went missing in the city on December 1, the day before her 22nd birthday.

Ms Ardern held back tears on Monday as she opened a press conference with an apology.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held back tears as she apologised on behalf of her country to the family of murdered British tourist Grace Millane

‘From the Kiwis I have spoken to there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality … especially to those who are visiting our shores,’ she said.

‘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.’

The government had offered its support to the Millane family, Ms Ardern said.

‘I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they will be experiencing.’

Her sentiment echoed widespread shock among much of the public in New Zealand, where killings by strangers are uncommon and the yearly number of homicides has been fewer than 50 since 2010.

Ms Ardern's voice broke as she said Miss Millane 'should have been safe here and she wasn't and I'm sorry for that'

Ms Ardern’s voice broke as she said Miss Millane ‘should have been safe here and she wasn’t and I’m sorry for that’

Ms Millane was last seen arriving at the central CityLife Hotel with a 26-year-old Auckland man, who has since been charged with her murder and appeared in court on Monday.

Candlelight vigils are being planned around the country and the operators of the Sky Tower – the most distinctive building in Auckland’s skyline – said it would display white lights until Thursday night as a tribute. 

Tourism New Zealand, which described the death as ‘unimaginable’, said travellers will now be concerned about visiting what is usually considered a safe destination.

Ms Millane, from Essex, was on the second leg of a year-long world tour following her university graduation.  

After visiting Peru, she arrived alone in New Zealand last month and had been in touch with family and friends nearly daily until her disappearance. 

The 26-year-old suspect (right) rides alongside a policeman on his way to court on Monday

The 26-year-old suspect (right) rides alongside a policeman on his way to court on Monday

The body of Grace Millane, 22, (right) was discovered on Sunday as police earlier arrested a 26-ear-old suspect over the crime

The body of Grace Millane, 22, (right) was discovered on Sunday as police earlier arrested a 26-ear-old suspect over the crime

The man accused of murdering Miss Millane was called a ‘scumbag’ from the public gallery as he appeared in court charged with her murder on Monday. 

The suspect sat just yards away from Grace’s father and uncle as they attended the first day of his trial in Auckland.  

Judge Evangelos Thomas told Millane’s family members in court on Monday: ‘I don’t know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate.’

‘We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately brings you some peace.’

The suspect, who was charged earlier this week with the 22-year-old’s murder, was said to have looked gloomy as he sat in the dock, having been led in wearing blue police overalls.

After 90 minutes standing in the courtroom, he was led back to the cells by prison officers.

Flowers left at the crime scene by members of the public paying their respects where her body was discovered on Sunday morning

Flowers left at the crime scene by members of the public paying their respects where her body was discovered on Sunday morning

Grace Millane (left) with her mother Gillian. Grace's family appeared in court on Monday alongside her suspected killer

Grace Millane (left) with her mother Gillian. Grace’s family appeared in court on Monday alongside her suspected killer

Court documents seen by Sky News showed the suspect had been living at the same hotel she disappeared from last Saturday. 

Grace, 22, from Essex, was last seen with the man at the CityLife hotel in Auckland at about 9.40pm on December 1 – where they were both staying, police said. 

How the pair met or what the possible motive for the killing might be remains unclear.  

The suspect cannot currently be named in New Zealand or on social media due to a court order. 

Grace’s body was discovered by New Zealand police on Sunday morning after a nationwide search and international outcry over her disappearance.   

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said her body was found near Scenic Drive, which leads through the Waitakere Ranges, a popular parkland west of Auckland.

He said her remains were 10 yards from the side of the road, hidden in bushland. Police believe she was taken to the area in a rental car, which was recently found nearly 300 kilometres (186 miles) away in Taupo. 

The scene where the body of British tourist Grace Millane was found by New Zealand police in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland

The scene where the body of British tourist Grace Millane was found by New Zealand police in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland

Friends and relatives, including Grace's brother Declan (pictured here with his sister), shared heartwarming tributes as news broke that her body had been discovered

Friends and relatives, including Grace’s brother Declan (pictured here with his sister), shared heartwarming tributes as news broke that her body had been discovered

British backpacker Grace Millane (pictured), had been travelling New Zealand when she disappeared on December 1. Her body was found more than a week later, on Sunday morning

British backpacker Grace Millane (pictured), had been travelling New Zealand when she disappeared on December 1. Her body was found more than a week later, on Sunday morning

Since early Sunday morning a scene examination has been underway in a section of bush on Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges. Police need to hear from anyone who saw this Toyota Corolla hatchback rental car

Since early Sunday morning a scene examination has been underway in a section of bush on Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges. Police need to hear from anyone who saw this Toyota Corolla hatchback rental car

TIMELINE OF MISSING BACKPACKER MURDER PROBE

November 20: Grace Millane arrives in New Zealand from Peru. She had been in nearly daily contact with her family.

November 30: Ms Millane posts her last tweet saying ‘I think travelling has changed me I just brought some blue jeans.’

December 1: Ms Millane is seen at the CityLife Hotel, in Auckland, with a ‘male companion’

December 2: The 22-year-old’s birthday. Her family do not hear anything from her, which is unusual behaviour. Just before noon: A red Toyota Corolla hatchback is hired from a central Auckland rental firm

December 5: Her worried family file a missing persons report and pictured of Ms Millane are shared extensively online

December 6: Police release an image of Grace Millane leaving the hostel at 7.15pm on December 1

December 7:  Police said they had received dozens of calls to a hotline and more than 25 staff were working on the case, trawling through hours of CCTV footage to trace her movements

After arriving in Auckland her father, David Millane, makes an emotional plea for help finding his daughter. Police reveal they have spoken to the male companion and he is a person of interest. The man was not taken into custody and police said there was no evidence of foul play

December 8:  A 26-year-old man is taken into custody at a central Auckland address by police

 December 9: Police announce they are searching an area on Scenic Drive, near the Waitakere Reservoir shortly after 4pm: Police find a body they believe to be Ms Millane in vegetation around 10m from the road

A 26-year-old man is charged with her murder. He will appear in court tomorrow morning 

A body was found about 10m from the road in bushland, and police believe it is Ms Millane's body. Pictured: A forensics officer poring over the crime scene on Sunday

A body was found about 10m from the road in bushland, and police believe it is Ms Millane’s body. Pictured: A forensics officer poring over the crime scene on Sunday

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said despite the fact formal identification hasn't yet taken place they believe it is the body of Grace

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said despite the fact formal identification hasn’t yet taken place they believe it is the body of Grace

Pictured: Police  standing guard on a section of Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges as forensics teams investigated the crime scene

Pictured: Police standing guard on a section of Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges as forensics teams investigated the crime scene

The scene where the body of British tourist Grace Millane has been found by New Zealand police in the Waitakere Ranges

The scene where the body of British tourist Grace Millane has been found by New Zealand police in the Waitakere Ranges

The 22-year-old, originally from Essex in south-east England, travelled to Auckland three weeks ago

The 22-year-old, originally from Essex in south-east England, travelled to Auckland three weeks ago

David Millane, Grace's property developer father, broke down in tears as he begged for help finding his backpacker daughter after she vanished in New Zealand 

David Millane, Grace’s property developer father, broke down in tears as he begged for help finding his backpacker daughter after she vanished in New Zealand 

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk