Family and friends of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane have shared photographs and stories of the young woman as they knew her growing up.

New Zealanders know Grace as the woman killed in an Auckland city apartment on the eve of her 22nd birthday in December 2018 after a Tinder date.

Her killer, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years following harrowing victim impact statements from Grace's mother Gillian, brother Declan and sister-in-law Victoria.

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Today her family have released a memory box of moments in time, stories and photographs made by Grace's school, hockey and university friends; those who knew the girl behind the smile.

Grace Millane when she made her First Communion as a young Catholic school girl in Essex, outside London. Photo / Instagram
Grace Millane when she made her First Communion as a young Catholic school girl in Essex, outside London. Photo / Instagram

The stories appear on the Love Grace Instagram account, a charitable campaign set up in the United Kingdom by Grace's family to combine her love of handbags with a legacy in her name to end violence toward women.

The appeal asks for donations of handbags filled with toiletries, luxury items and other essentials that will help women in need get to a safer future and co-ordinates with Women's Refuge in New Zealand.

The photographs show Grace as a young girl, in school and sports uniforms, in classroom photos, making her First Communion, at the beach, throwing a friend into a pool, pulling faces, dressed in costumes, at 21st birthdays, on a girls' night out, family holidays, hockey tours and as a baby.

They paint a picture of a happy life filled with friendship, fun, laughter and love.

One friend describe Grace as having an "infectious smile", being "the happiest person" and the "brightest star" while Samantha Ramsay said she had big dreams and encouraged others to be the same.

Grace Millane with good friend Samantha Ramsay, who said Grace had big dreams including to travel. Photo / Instagram
Grace Millane with good friend Samantha Ramsay, who said Grace had big dreams including to travel. Photo / Instagram

Ramsay wrote that Grace was always the first to get her friends into a hug circle for the Ed Sheeran song Thinking Out Loud.

"All of hockey still thinks of that as Grace's song and when it still comes on at the end (whenever we've come back for a reunion) we all hold each other. And usually have a bit of a cry."

The song ends with the lyrics: "We found love right where we are."

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The stories tell of a popular young woman who befriended many.

Francesca Reyers recalled a story about Grace when they met at Camp America as counsellors.

"One of the best memories I have of Grace is when she evacuated a whole pool of kids and jumped in to grab a snake and throw it out.

"In the process it bit her and she was so brave (braver than the male counsellors) and we had a good laugh afterwards about it."

Grace Millane, left, with her hockey team friends on a night out. Photo / Instagram
Grace Millane, left, with her hockey team friends on a night out. Photo / Instagram

Esme Taylor said Grace, an experienced hockey player, was patient and encouraging when they were partnered in Taylor's first ever session.

"You never forget kindness like hers."