Radio host’s emotional plea
A New Zealand radio host was reduced to tears as she begged male listeners to call out their mates on how they treat women after the death of a British backpacker.
Grace Millane, 22, was found dead in the Waitakere Ranges, west Auckland last week.
She had been travelling alone in New Zealand for two weeks, following a six-week group trip through South America, before she was allegedly murdered by a 26-year-old man.
Radio station The Edge's morning radio presenter Meg, of the Dom, Meg and Randell show, used her platform to send a powerful message.
"I have heard and seen too many comments asking the question what was she doing travelling by herself. Or whether she was on a Tinder date or not," Meg said her during her emotional broadcast.
"I'll say it again louder for the people in the back, this was not her fault.
"Nor was it her parents, who would've proudly dropped her off at the airport with a backpack on her back and a smile on her face.
"The question we should be asking is why did a man feel he had the right to take her life?"
The accused had left comments on her Facebook page under a photo she posted, saying how "beautiful" she was, days before she went missing.
Ms Millane was reported missing on December 5. Three days later the 26-year-old man was taken into custody. He was charged with Ms Millane's murder on December 8.
"Every woman should have the freedom to travel without the fear of death and violence," the host demanded.
"Grace wanted to come to New Zealand and enjoy all of the things that we love about our country, what we pride ourselves on. The scenery, the food, friendly people," Meg said, reflecting on when she travelled to the US as a 19-year-old.
"I know of many women who have done the same - family members, co-workers and friends all packing up their lives to enjoy the world.
"And they all come home … Grace won't be going home and telling her stories. She won't get her friends to crowd around her over brunch and flick through her photos in her phone with memories of new friends. She was unfairly, gut-wrenchingly taken away from us. And it wasn't her fault."
As the teary host continued, she reminded women on how to activate the emergency button on their smartphones.
"My female friends: please let friends know where you are, who you are with and keep in touch with each other," Meg said.
"There is an alarm on your iPhone you can activate that will call the police if you feel scared, press the on-off button five times in a row and you will hear a siren sound. Samsung users, press that button three times and it will call your emergency contact. Look after each other."
She begged men to "please keep each other accountable".
"If you hear a mate talking disrespectfully of woman - be an ally to us and call them out on it.
"We have a long way to go for Aotearoa (New Zealand) to be the safe oasis we advertise ourselves as."
The death has rocked the country with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern giving an emotional apology to the Millane family, saying the nation feels a collective shame over her death.
"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," Ms Ardern 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."
Court documents say the accused is a resident at the CityLife on Queen St, Auckland. It is where Ms Millane was last seen alive.
It has emerged that a Facebook user alleged to be the accused man left a chilling comment on the talented artist's Facebook profile picture, writing "beautiful very radiant" with an upside-down smiley face emoji. The comment has since been deleted.
However, it didn't take long for people on social media to make the connection.
"u took a (sic) innocent girl's life away and left her family friends and this whole world complete (sic) shattered I hope you get everything you deserve in jail," one user posted.
Others added angry face emojis to his comment.
The man's identity has been suppressed by the court, and the online breach spurred police to remind the public about the importance of respecting suppression laws.
"We would like to remind the public that while we appreciate the public feeling around this case, it is an offence to breach a court order such as a name suppression, and this includes naming someone who has name suppression on social media," officer in charge, Detective Inspector Scott Beard, said.
Since Ms Millane's death, her personal Facebook has been turned into a remembrance page.
Originally from Essex, southeast England, the young woman who had celebrated her 22nd birthday on December 2, seemed on a high from her round-the-world trip.
She took to Twitter to joke about its impact on her.
"I think travelling has changed me; I just brought some blue jeans," she joked on November 30 - 10 days after she landed in New Zealand.
She mysteriously vanished having been seen for the last time at a CityLife Hotel in Auckland with a "male companion" - who is understood to have been on a Tinder date, although this has not been confirmed by police.
On the day of her disappearance, she told her mates at the hostel, "I'm going to see a friend" and she messaged others saying she was meeting a guy.
It came after a major hunt for answers which brought her father David to New Zealand to help with the search.
The British backpacker and talented artist, who shared her vibrant paintings on Instagram, was on the second leg of a year-long trip around the world after she finished her studies at the University of Lincoln in the UK's East Midlands.
However, it would tragically end up being the final chapter in her life.
The accused has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance in January.