As slain British backpacker Grace Millane made her final trip home, it was revealed her mother had not been able to make the trip to New Zealand because she has cancer.

Grace's father David this weekend left New Zealand to take her body home.

At the same time it emerged that Grace's mother Gillian, 57, had been undergoing treatment for breast cancer which was why she was not able to join the search in New Zealand, according to The Sunday Times.

British backpacker Grace Millane donated some of her long hair to a cancer charity before she began the OE that ended with her death in Auckland.
British backpacker Grace Millane donated some of her long hair to a cancer charity before she began the OE that ended with her death in Auckland.

Her family have spoke to the The Sunday Times of their "beautiful daughter and sister" saying she was so passionate to see the world she had already made plans for a second OE.

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Millane, a graduate in marketing and advertising, was last seen alive in central Auckland on December 1, the day before she would have turned 22. Her body was found eight days later in West Auckland's Waitakere Ranges, near Scenic Drive.

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

One of Grace's brothers, Michael, 29, said it had been her plan to organise a trip to Asia once she had completed the journey that included New Zealand.

"She had a passion to see the world before she settled into a job. Her mind was set that she wanted to do this thing."

Before arriving in New Zealand last month, Grace had kicked off her backpacking trip by spending five weeks in Peru.

Her family said a highlight for her was the trek to the 15th century Inca citadel Machu Picchu, and the local chocolate factories were a must.

She had intended to go to Fiji after New Zealand, then to Australia and was due to fly home from Sydney next June 26.

Just weeks before she began her trip, Grace donated some of her hair to a charity that makes wigs for children who have lost their own hair because of cancer treatment.

Grace Millane, left, with her mother Gillian. Photo / via Instagram
Grace Millane, left, with her mother Gillian. Photo / via Instagram
David Millane, the father of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane, at a press conference. Photo / Doug Sherring
David Millane, the father of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane, at a press conference. Photo / Doug Sherring

"She had really long hair before she left," said Michael. "But she cut it all off and donated it to the Little Princess Trust."

The family said travellers should not be put off by Grace's death.

"We all fly the nest," said Michael. Her death "should not deter any man or woman" from following their dreams.

Last week Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern choked up as she delivered a heart-felt apology to the family.

"I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they would be experiencing and feeling right now. My thoughts and prayers are with her father David who is in the country, her mother Gillian who cannot be here, and her wider family and friends and loved ones.

Millane was staying at a hostel in Auckland when she disappeared. Photo / Supplied
Millane was staying at a hostel in Auckland when she disappeared. Photo / Supplied
Millane went on her OE after graduating. Photo / Supplied
Millane went on her OE after graduating. Photo / Supplied

"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 manaakitanga, especially those visiting our shores.

"On behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise to Grace's family."

Her voice cracking, Ardern said: "Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn't, and I'm sorry for that."

A woman reacts during a candlelight vigil for murdered British tourist Grace Millane at Cathedral Square in Christchurch. Photo / AP
A woman reacts during a candlelight vigil for murdered British tourist Grace Millane at Cathedral Square in Christchurch. Photo / AP
Detective Inspector Scott Beard with a photo of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane. Photo / Doug Sherring
Detective Inspector Scott Beard with a photo of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane. Photo / Doug Sherring

Ardern said that it was "not necessarily" the Prime Minister's place to apologise on behalf of the country.

"It's just something I sense that New Zealanders may have wanted to convey, and I'm in a position perhaps where I'm able to convey that.

A memorial sits outside City Life on Queen Street in remembrance of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane. Photo / Dean Purcell
A memorial sits outside City Life on Queen Street in remembrance of murdered British backpacker Grace Millane. Photo / Dean Purcell

"We pride ourselves on being a place where people are welcome and where they're safe, and that hasn't happened in this case. I feel the sense that New Zealanders found it quite personal.

"I don't think I'm alone in feeling that way. I think all New Zealanders will just feel their heart breaking for that family."