New Zealanders continue to pour out their emotions on the unfortunate murder of British backpacker Grace Millane in Auckland last week, ranging from a public apology from the Prime Minister to numerous vigils bringing people in large numbers, throughout the length and breadth of the country.
The story of the death of twenty-year-old British backpacker who was supposed to be on a journey of her lifetime and was scheduled to celebrate her twenty-second birthday in the country just when her life was tragically cut-short has touched a chord with everyone in New Zealand.
The notable outbursts that gained much public attention were a public apology by the Prime Minister, sombre-faced, emotional sentiments expressed by Detective Inspector Scott Beard – the policeman who led a meticulous investigation to find the body of Grace and made an arrest – apart from public vigils all around the county.
The crowd at the Wellington vigil Photo- RNZ-Emma Hatton
Among the more visibly seen emotional outpourings, some were of differing opinions as well – especially those who found the expression of collective grief a bit disrespectful to many, including the deceased young lady and also to many other similar unfortunate stories of murder and deaths that have happened in the country in the span of ten days that the media and social media has been all but consumed by this story.
Over the same period of the ten days that the nation collectively mourned Grace Millane’s murder – a 21-year-old was stabbed to death in Mt Roskill, a solo mother to a small child was beaten to death in her South Auckland home, a young father beaten to death in Christchurch, a 71-year-old man decapitated in Petone. None of these equally unfortunate deaths attracted anywhere close to the attention that the death of Grace Millane received.
To be fair, these opinions were also an emotional outpouring, much like others, though differing with the majority.
A tribute to Grace Millane at Titirangi roundabout. Photo- RNZ - Maxine Jacobs
Indeed, the nation has come to a pause, if not to a standstill – as the idea that New Zealand is a safe country, particularly for young single women choosing to travel to the country as a part of her world trip – is being severely tested in the minds of many people.
Packing one’s bag and travelling, alone or in groups all around the world, especially within the group of thirty-odd developed countries, is a well-established way of life and almost a right of passage for a many young New Zealanders.
Receiving young guests from, and sending guests to, countries like the United Kingdom, is in the very DNA of this country, thus explaining the magnitude of emotional outpourings from one and all in this country.
On Wednesday, December 12, public vigils were held in places like Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin.
The vigil in Auckland was joined by father of a Kiwi girl – Emily Longley – who was murdered in the UK in 2011 as he felt a strong emotional bond with Ms Millane’s father, whose exceptionally composed behaviour while being in NZ has moved one and all.
Thursday, Dec 7: Police issues media advisory for sighting of Grace Millane
The Police had first issued media advisory for sighting of missing 22-year-old English tourist Grace Millane on Thursday, December 6.
At that stage, Grace was last sighted around 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 1, on Victoria Street, Auckland CBD.
Various sightings have her wearing either, black top, blues jeans and red sneakers, or a black dress with white shoes.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard then said Grace not been in contact with her family back in UK for a number of days.
A candlelit vigil was held in Nelson. Photo- RNZ-Tracy Neal
Friday, Dec 7: Police media advisory confirms last sighting in Auckland CBD
Since first reported missing on Wednesday, December 1, Police issued another media advisory next day advising possible last sighting in public at the Citylife Hotel, on Saturday 1 December with a male companion.
Police identifies this man and he has been spoken to. Six days had passed since Grace was last sighted and Police expressed grave fears of her safety.
The investigation to continue throughout the weekend.
Saturday, Dec 8: Police confirms worst fears of Grace’s death
The investigation into the disappearance of Grace Millane has developed this evening.
Just after 3 p.m. this afternoon, a 26-year-old man was located at a central Auckland address by Police.
He was brought back here to the Auckland Central Police station and is currently speaking to us in relation to the murder of Grace Millane.
The evidence police had gathered to this point of the enquiry has established that this is a homicide.
Grace’s family have been advised of this development and they are devastated.
The man is still being spoken to at this point.
Saturday, Dec 8: Final police update
The 26-year-old who has been speaking with Police in relation to the disappearance of Grace Millane will be charged with her murder.
He will remain in Police custody until Monday morning when he will appear in the Auckland District Court.
The father of missing girl arrives in the country in search of his daughter.
Sunday, Dec 9: Police identifies location of interest
Police investigating the murder of English tourist Grace Millane have identified a location of interest.
A full scene examination is underway in a bush area on Scenic Drive.
At this stage, police were not able to confirm whether Grace has been located at this site.
A full road closure of Scenic Drive, between the intersection of Mountain Road/Scenic Drive and the Waitakere Reservoir Carpark, was in place from 3pm until 7pm on Sunday.
Sunday, Dec 9: Police locates the body of Grace Millane
Shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 9, Police was able to locate a body believed to be of Grace.
The formal identification process will now take place, however, based on the evidence we have gathered over the past few days, we expect that this is Grace.
Obviously, this brings the search for Grace to an end. It is an unbearable time for the Millane family, and our hearts go out to them.
The investigation will continue through for some time yet.
The focus now is to piece together exactly what happened to a young girl, who came to this country on her OE.
Monday, Dec 10: Man appears in court, gets name suppression
The man arrested in Grace Millane case appeared in Auckland court where he was sent to Police custody and got name suppression.
Wednesday, December 12
Vigils conducted all around the country to express sentiments for Grace Millane’s tragic murder on her first overseas trip.