Grace Millane death: Friend posts heartbreaking, emotional tribute

A friend of Grace Millane has written of the slain British backpacker's kindness and ability to console people in an emotional Facebook post.

Accompanied with several photos of the pair smiling and out for drinks, Maddie Hopper said that anyone who had met the 22-year-old "knows how sweet and kind she was", describing her as "one of the most genuine people I was lucky enough to know".

New Zealand’s 'dark side' exposed after Grace Millane's death

"Grace never wanted anyone around her to be sad and she'd do anything she could to help make you feel better even if it meant not being able to talk about her own feelings," she wrote.

After Ms Millane failed to contact her family for three days while on an overseas experience in Auckland, a missing persons investigation begun which eventually led to a 26-year-old man being charged with her murder and her body being found in west Auckland bush.

Ms Hopper, who didn't want to talk to Newshub but said she was happy for her post to be reported on, said she couldn't process what had happened or the fact "Grace is really gone".

"My heart breaks every time I realise I'll never get to see her again.

"I just want to give you a big cuddle and never let go but instead I'm just going to pray that you're somewhere lovely and surrounded by dogs."

The Facebook post has received a stream of comments from other friends as well as Kiwis, sending their condolences and sharing their shock at the news.

"We as a country are ashamed at this, I myself as a Kiwi am ashamed to say I'm a Kiwi," said one Facebook user. "I love you Mad, lovely, lovely words," said another.

Ms Millane's murder has gripped New Zealand, with everyone from Edge radio hosts to the Prime Minister paying their respects and sending thoughts to the woman's family.

Her brother Declan posted a heart-breaking tribute on his Instagram, calling her "my sunshine, my only sunshine".

The hashtag #herlightourlove has been used on Twitter as a virtual vigil, with people posting photos of sunsets and skylines to honour Ms Millane.

Candlelight vigils have been planned for locations across the country to honour Ms Millane and the many other women in New Zealand killed by violence.

The family of the backpacker have expressed their gratitude for the messages and thoughts, but won't attend the vigils.