New Zealand Prime Minister Makes Emotional Apology To Millane Family
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made an emotional apology to the family of British backpacker Grace Millane, saying her nation feels a collective shame over the young woman's death.
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.
The 26-year-old man she was last seen with appeared in court on Monday charged with her murder.
Ardern held back tears on Monday as she opened a press conference with an apology.
"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, 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.
Candlelight vigils were on Monday being planned around the country during the week and the operators of the Sky Tower - the most distinctive building in Auckland's skyline said it would be lit in white until Thursday night as a tribute.
The man she was last seen with has been charged with murder (Image AAP)
The Millane family were grateful and gave their blessing for the planned events, but would not be attending, police said in a statement.
Tourism New Zealand, which described the death as "unimaginable", meanwhile said travellers would be left concerned about what is usually considered a safe destination.
While killings by strangers are uncommon in New Zealand and the yearly number of homicides has been fewer than 50 since 2010, a number of women visiting the country have been killed by men in recent decades.
Millane, from Essex, was on the second leg of a year-long world tour after graduating from university.
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.
She was last seen on camera arriving at the CityLife Hotel in central Auckland with the murder-accused, who appeared in Auckland District Court on Monday and cannot yet be publicly named due to a ruling.
He'll return to a higher court next year.
Police on Monday evening said a post-mortem had been carried out but declined to comment on the results. Their examination of dense bush where Millane's body was found was ongoing and officers were still appealing for witnesses near the scene.
Flowers were being laid near the site during the day.