It's been an entire year since Grace Millane died. Tomorrow, she should have been celebrating her 23rd birthday.

Instead her parents, her brothers, all those who loved her will be remembering the bubbly girl who was ripped from them in "barbaric" fashion.

Less than two weeks ago a 27-year-old man was found guilty of her murder.

The man will be sentenced in February, but he cannot be named for legal reasons - meaning attention instead has been on Grace and her legacy.

Advertisement

Millane's parents, David and Gillian, spent three weeks listening to harrowing evidence at the High Court trial in November.

READ MORE
We can't win: What the Grace Millane trial says about women and sex
Murderer's stepbrother 'shed tears' at result, but pleased justice served
Grace Millane killer so scary his flatmate went to bed with a knife
The girl behind the headlines: 'Brightest star in heaven'

They heard how the man met Millane on a Tinder date on the eve of her 22nd birthday; how he strangled her some time late on December 1 or early the next morning, then buried her body in a suitcase in the Waitākere Ranges.

And they heard a jury pronounce him guilty of murder, bringing justice for Grace and a measure of peace to the family.

Grace Millane was enjoying her OE when she was murdered by a 27-year-old man. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane was enjoying her OE when she was murdered by a 27-year-old man. Photo / Supplied

Now the Millanes have returned to the UK to start "picking up the pieces" of their lives, along with her brothers Declan and Michael.

The Millanes were praised for the dignity with which they've faced the worst trial a parent could ever endure. They will face the anniversary of her death with the same dignity.

But in the intervening year they haven't sat on their hands - they have been campaigning to raise awareness of violence against women, to help make deaths like Grace's a thing of the past.

READ MORE
Comment: Why I'm glad Grace Millane's murderer hasn't been named
Editorial: Why was Grace Millane's sexual history put to the jury?
Several legal reasons Grace Millane's killer continues to have name suppression
Teuila Fuatai: Deeper lessons to be learned from Grace Millane trial

Advertisement

When Grace's body was found, candlelit vigils were held across New Zealand, both in her memory and in the memory of other murdered women, many of whom were killed at home.

In a post to Facebook, the organisers of the vigils pointed out that the "gut reaction" for many people was to say "this isn't New Zealand, this isn't us".

"To some degree it isn't - travelling women don't often get murdered here - but New Zealand women do, most often in their homes. We can hold both these things as important as part of the vigil."

Over the past year the family have focused on creating a legacy for Grace. They've fundraised thousands of pounds for charity White Ribbon, which aims to end male violence against women.

The Millanes have collaborated with LL Loves, Grace's favourite jewellery brand to create bracelets and earrings in her name. A portion of the sale price of each piece goes to White Ribbon UK.

Millane's family are honouring her memory by raising awareness around male violence against women. Photo / Supplied
Millane's family are honouring her memory by raising awareness around male violence against women. Photo / Supplied

The company's website warns buyers that their bracelets may take extra time to arrive due to "extremely high demand".

The Millanes have also created a charity, Love Grace, that collects handbags filled with toiletries and useful items to donate to local women's refuges in the UK.

A message on each bag says Grace was "a loving, family orientated free spirit with a beautiful caring nature, who was a loyal friend and enhanced the lives of all who were lucky enough to meet her."

"Grace's family have created the legacy in her name by fundraising for the White Ribbon charity, promoting awareness to end male violence towards women.

“Open different doors, you may find a you there that you never knew was yours. Anything can happen” - - ❤️

Posted by Love Grace x on Wednesday, 20 November 2019

"To continue this legacy, we have created 'Love Grace' bags. Donated in memory of our amazing Grace, which contain everyday essentials that we hope will be of benefit to you and help you on your road to a safe future.

"Believe in yourself no matter what."

Gillian and David Millane spoke to the media after the jury's unanimous decision on November 22.

David Millane said while the guilty verdict was welcomed by their family it did not reduce the pain and suffering they had endured over the past year.

Grace Millane's parents said their only daughter didn't deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric way. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Grace Millane's parents said their only daughter didn't deserve to be murdered in such a barbaric way. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"This will be with us for the rest of our lives," he said.

"Grace was a beautiful, talented, loving daughter. Grace was our sunshine and she will be missed forever."

His only daughter did not deserve to be "murdered in such a barbaric way" on her OE year.

"We'd like to thank the people of New Zealand, they've opened their hearts to Grace and our family.

"I cannot express our gratitude enough for all the offers and gifts of kindness that we've received over the last year.

"Finally, we must return home and try and pick up the pieces of our lives on a day-to-day without our beloved Grace."