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Watch: Jacinda Ardern fights back tears as she apologises to family of Grace Millane on behalf of NZ

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given an emotional apology to the family of dead British backpacker Grace Millane on behalf of the country today.

Ms Ardern fought back tears as she made a statement at today's post-Cabinet address in Wellington.

"I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they will be experiencing and feeling right now.

"My thoughts and prayers are with her father David who is in the country her mother who cannot be here and her wider family friends and loved ones," Ms Ardern said.

The Prime Minister then spoke of the "shame" the incident has brought on the country.

"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 on our manakitanga, especially to those who are visiting our shores.

"And so on behalf of New Zealand I want to apologise to Grace's family your daughter was supposed to be safe here and she wasn't and I apologise for that," Ms Ardern concluded the statement holding back tears.

When asked if she was taking it personally, Ms Ardern said she was not alone.  

"I think all New Zealanders will just feel their heart is breaking for that family.

"This particular case probably feels quite personal to a lot of people."

Case background:

A 26-year-old man has appeared in the Auckland District Court today charged with the 22-year-old's murder.

"Scumbag," a person in the public gallery yelled as he was led away from the courtroom at the conclusion of the hearing.

David Millane - the father of British backpacker Grace Millane, who was found dead in west Auckland - arrives outside the Auckland District Court on 10 December for the first appearance of her accused killer. Source: 1 NEWS

Earlier, Judge Evangelos Thomas began the hearing by acknowledging the presence of Ms Millane's family in court.

 "I don't know what we can say to you at this time - your grief must be desperate," he said. "All of us hope justice for Grace is fair and swift, and ultimately brings you some peace."

He added, however, that today's hearing is not about reaching a judgment.

"I ask everyone please be patient as we get through the business of the first court appearance," the judge told the courtroom audience - which included reporters from as far away as Australia and the UK - before considering the name suppression request by the man's lawyer.

After lengthy submissions on the matter, Judge Thomas initially refused the defendant's request for name suppression.

"You have not been able to satisfy me that you have even an arguable case for name suppression and I must refuse it," he said.

But the man's lawyer indicated plans to appeal the decision, meaning the name must stay suppressed for 20 working days while an appeal is filed.

The police - along with Ms Millane's family, through the police - opposed the decision to grant name suppression.

The 26-year-old has been in police custody since Saturday, one day before police found what they believe to be Ms Millane’s body in west Auckland bush, about 10 metres from the road.

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    "I cannot image the grief of her family," Ms Ardern said. Source: 1 NEWS