"To our men, love your woman, stand up, speak out, it is never okay. To our women, look after and take care of each other."

That was the message delivered to more than 100 mourners who attended a candlelight vigil at Memorial Park in Hamilton on Wednesday night in remembrance of British tourist Grace Millane.

The body of 22-year-old Millane was found last weekend, just weeks into her trip around New Zealand. A 26-year-old man has been charged with her murder.

The vigil was not just organised for Grace — it was for women across the country who have been victims of sexual harassment and violence at the hands of men.

Advertisement

Louise Hutt, one of the organisers, told the crowd it was disappointing that it took this long for people to come together about violence against women, but hoped it would be the start of something new.

"This should be the start of a conversation that should had been started a long time ago," Ms Hutt said.

"I hope tonight we can acknowledge our emotions, I hope we can use them to be brave and have uncomfortable conversations.

"We can change the world for the better and it starts here tonight." Women's programme coordinator at the Hamilton Abuse Intervention Project Te Manu Elkington asked the crowd to inspire change and to keep working on it.

She said that women could still be legally whipped and beaten up until 1988, when the law changed.

"Thirty years ago, but in 30 years I want to celebrate what women have done."

"For all of those hundreds and hundreds of years, women have had no voice and no power, and then we get up here and change the world in 30 years," Ms Elkington said.

At 9pm on the same night, another vigil was held at Garden Place, as Hamilton's Christmas tree lit up white in remembrance of Grace.

Hamilton City Councillor Angela O'Leary said that New Zealand shrinks to a community of one when tragic events take place.

"We came together tonight to shine our light for Grace, to show support to her family and friends — as a community of one — to chase away the darkness," Ms O'Leary said.

"Our light also shines tonight for others, and it shines and pushes against the violence in our community, the violence that takes so much more from us, than the tragic moment it intended.

"A moment that takes our pride, our sense of community, and life from us. But it will never take our light — and it can never take our love."