Passions burn brightly at candlelit vigils for Grace Millane

  • 13/12/2018

There have been emotional calls to end gender-based violence following vigils for murdered backpacker Grace Millane on Wednesday night.

Ms Millane was killed at the beginning of a yearlong trip around the world, her body found in the Waitakere Ranges on Sunday.

A 26-year-old man has been charged with her murder.

Her father released an emotional statement before the vigils and said Ms Millane would forever be a Kiwi.

The names of all the women killed via homicide in New Zealand, including Ms Millane's, were read out at a vigil on Auckland's Federal St before a moment of silence. A previous vigil was held at St Patrick's Square up the road.

Mark Longley, whose daughter Emily was killed in 2011 after a short yet violent relationship, spoke at both Auckland vigils and asked people to step in if something seems off.

"I ask people to change their attitude so there's not another family going to visit their daughter in a morgue, looking at her thinking, 'I wish someone had stepped up, I wish someone had done something to intervene before it was too late,' that we need to stop accepting that this is fine."

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told attendees at the Wellington vigil she's seeing men creating safe spaces to talk to each other about healthy relationships.

"For men to be able to step up, admit to the challenges that they have faced in keeping their relationships violence-free."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Newshub Ms Millane's death struck New Zealand deeply because of her background.

"We could have a sister or a daughter like her on OE enjoying herself and her life tragically cut short in that way - I think that's been part of the outpouring of emotion."

Mr Goff said it's time to see a culture change in New Zealand, as there are far too many police callouts for violent incidents.

"Every four-and-a-half minutes a violent incident is reported to the police, a domestic violence incident - that's 327 cases a day."

He called for people to change their behaviour and avoid demeaning women.

"The behaviour that demeans women, that does not respect women and regards women as something that can be exploited and abused, we've got to change that."