Detective Inspector Scott Beard, the police's figurehead in the investigation into English backpacker Grace Millane's death, has flown to England to attend her funeral.

A spokesman said Beard and a family liaison officer both attended the funeral overnight in the UK.

It was a "mark of respect to the family" and part of New Zealand police's commitment to support the Millane family.

Friends and family and mourners numbered in the hundreds gathered at Brentwood Cathedral in Brentwood, Essex, at 11.30am (12.30am NZT) before the burial in her hometown of Ramsden Bellhouse.

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Grace's father David Millane was visibly distraught during the procession as he gave an emotional eulogy.

The 22-year-old was on the trip of a lifetime and had been in New Zealand for little more than a week when she disappeared on December 1.

More than a week later, on December 9, her body was found in the Waitākere Ranges, 10 metres off Scenic Drive in thick bushland.

Beard was the man who gave daily updates to the ever-growing media pack, reassured the public that his team would find Millane, and delivered the crushing news of her tragic death.

22-year-old Grace Millane was on the trip of a lifetime and had only been in New Zealand just over a week when she disappeared. Photo / Supplied
22-year-old Grace Millane was on the trip of a lifetime and had only been in New Zealand just over a week when she disappeared. Photo / Supplied

During the investigation, Beard, a father himself, was noticeably emotional after delivering the news to Millane's family and then the media that her body had been found.

Beard, who led a team of about 24 investigators in the search for and recovery of Millane, has led some of Auckland's most high-profile murder investigations over the years.

He is currently the officer in charge of the Kayo Matsuzawa file - the cold case murder of a Japanese tourist found dead in the CBD in 1998.

In 2017 he led the inquiry into the death of Michael David Mulholland, 69, in his Western Springs home.

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Grace's father last year said Beard was a "measured, selfless, human and professional face of Auckland Police".

"His emotional media statements have made him many fans both in New Zealand and at home in the UK."

Millane's coffin was carried into the cathedral last night by six pallbearers, including her brothers Michael and Declan and her father, the BBC reports.

Later, Michael and Declan read the poem "Until We Meet Again".

It begins: "Each morning when we awake, we know that you are gone, and no one knows the heartache, as we try to carry on".

Father John Corbyn, who led the Mass, said after the service that the Millane's were "a very strong family".