There were multiple sighs of relief when pretty North Shore teenager Mia Cooper turned up this week.

The 15-year-old dropped off the social media and phone communications radar last Friday night, and her family reported her missing on Saturday.

The post went viral, with social media still hypersensitive to the Auckland family's plight after the death of young British traveller Grace Millane.

"Oh no, not again" crossed the minds of many New Zealanders. And a big "whew" would have been expressed when she turned up.


Perhaps even the Prime Minister wiped a metaphorical brow.

Jacinda Ardern, who in 2018 has brought parental empathy to the PM role, apologised to Grace's parents saying "she should have been safe here and she wasn't".

The apology was well intentioned but naive in suggesting that somehow we should be able to guarantee the safety of visitors to New Zealand, to somehow throw a Commonwealth korowai over them and keep them safe.

Because the sad fact is we have killers and rapists in New Zealand who prey on travellers.

In 2007, just over a decade ago, Chris Manuel raped a Dutch tourist in front of her newlywed husband. The attack was in Northland.

The Dutch couple were honeymooning in New Zealand on the trip of a lifetime.

Manuel was released from prison in 2014. He himself became a newlywed in 2015, on the cusp of the New Year, and that night was party to a fight that left a man dead.

Manuel admitted the man's manslaughter. The rapist had become a killer.


No social media outcry. No candles lit. No apologies.

Partly because the atrocious attack on the Dutch tourist occurred at a different time, when mainstream media was not quite so prevalent online, and social media was not quite so capable of the reactionary indignance that can be used for good, and, in some eyes, bad.

Manuel killed a gang associate, by the way. Again, no vigils, no apologies, etc.

Every person who organised or attended a vigil for Grace Millane deserves credit for their stance, whatever that might be.

For many it was violence against women.

But those vigils will have been a waste of time if the candles that were lit do not hold a light to the problem of domestic violence committed by New Zealanders, in New Zealand.

Gathering publicly, in unity, is powerful.

Even more so, is asking a victim of domestic violence, one on one, just a crowd of two, "are you okay?" and starting a conversation that might get them the hell out of a potentially fatal relationship.