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The tragic death of 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane in New Zealand has shaken the country, following her disappearance from a hostel in Auckland on December 1.

She was later recovered in the Waitakere Ranges area one week later, and a 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged.

He is scheduled to appear in the high court in January 2019.

Grace's heartbroken father, David Millane, attended a Māori blessing ceremony close to where backpacker was discovered yesterday, and has since praised the compassion shown by the New Zealanders.

David is taking his beloved little girl home in the next few days, but thanked the New Zealand police for a “concise, stringent and thorough investigation”, as well as the local media for showing respect and courtesy "at all times."

He also gave thanks to locals who took his daughter into their hearts, saying; “From that very first moment we have been astounded by the level of concern, sympathy and selfless help from every person we have met.”

“We would like to thank the people of New Zealand for their outpouring of love, numerous messages, tributes and compassion."

He continued in the statement, speaking on behalf of the Millane family;

“Grace was not born here and only managed to stay a few weeks, but you have taken her to your hearts and in some small way she will forever be a Kiwi.”

“We all hope that what has happened to Grace will not deter even one person from venturing out into the world,” he added.

Grace's father and uncle visited the Auckland bushland area near where she was found to receive a Māori blessing, which he described as a privilege, and a 'lovely and peaceful experience'.


A post shared by Portia Lawrence (@portialawrence) on

David Millane shared a hongi (nose press) with a local uniformed police officer in Auckland, a New Zealand traditional gesture.

Candlelight vigils were planned for Grace in every city in New Zealand on Wednesday, many of which were organised by women’s refuges and anti-violence organisations and activists.

Grace's family are organising her funeral in her hometown of Wickford, Essex. 

Our deepest condolences go out to Grace's loving family during this incredibly difficult time.



It’s been 58 years since Alice O’Sullivan was crowned the first ever Rose of Tralee.

The year was 1959, Éamon de Valera was President of Ireland, and Seán Lemass has begun his term as Taoiseach.

The first 12 female recruits were selected to join An Garda Siochana and Cliff Richard was No. 1 in the charts with Living Doll.

Representing Dublin at the inaugural event in Co Kerry, Alice could hardly have known that in the six decades that were to follow, hundreds of young women would continue to compete for the title.

But what is it about the event – often derided as outdated and sexist – which continues to appeal to young women around the world? We sat down with this year’s New Zealand Rose, Niamh O’Sullivan, in order to find out more.

Hailing from Co Cork, but currently living in New Zealand, Niamh admits that she understands some of the criticism levelled at this year’s live shows, but is at pains to highlight the event’s many merits.

“I understand this year there was some criticism of the live shows focussing too heavily on the woman's partners and had quite a "romantic angle",” she says.

“It is true there was a lot of time given over to the girls' partners, however the show is a family show and it aims to try to showcase the girls' personalities while also providing entertainment to all those watching.”

“Getting the balance between important social awareness topics and lighter, fun topics can be hard, and I'm sure it's something that RTÉ and the Rose of Tralee spend a lot of time discussing each year.”

“It's hard to please everyone and I've been talking to a lot of people who had completely differing opinions on what makes a good Rose of Tralee show so I feel there will always be criticism while there are differing opinions of the audience watching. “

Reflecting on the common narrative which suggests that the annual event is an outdated, anti-feminist spectacle, Niamh insists that one needs only cast a casual eye over its list of participants to see the inaccuracy of such a dialogue.

“[It] celebrates women – fantastic, intelligent and witty women who are proud of their Irish heritage and who get a chance to make their families' history of immigration known, and acknowledge the hardships that must have accompanied leaving Ireland,” Niamh explains.

“The women I met are shaping their communities, both in Ireland and all over the world. The work they do, in their careers and through voluntary work is highly inspiring and commendable and I'm very proud that Ireland has a festival that showcases these type of women for the younger generation to look up to.”

“In a world where there are a lot of questionable role models in the media shaping our young female minds, I feel there is a need for the Rose of Tralee and the type of female role models it portrays. If we continue to celebrate 64 new inspiring young woman each year, then I feel the festival will always hold an important position, and will remain relevant."

As viewers, our perception of the Rose of Tralee is born of the two nights of televised footage beamed out to us from the Kingdom, but in reality, what we are shown as viewers is only a snapshot of the womens' experience of the event.

"I won't lie and say I was prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that it turned out to be!" Niamh said of the week-long festival.

"So many businesses and people want to be part of the festival and host the Roses that we have a hectic schedule that leaves your head spinning! We are told of long days and short sleeps and you can try and prepare your mind for that but you can't ever prepare your body. It took its toll on both body and mind from Day Three for me."


Look out for this sign and you're at the entrance to Family Town! Starting today, Friday midday

A post shared by Rose Of Tralee (@roseoftraleefestival) on

And while sore throats and sore feet are a common complaint, Niamh also struggled with practicalities of living with Type 1 Diabetes.

"There were definitely some extra struggles I knew I would face putting myself forward for the Rose of Tralee," she said of her decision.

"I manage my  blood sugars using an insulin pump which is a small device the size of an old block Nokia that I wear 24 hours a day. The block is attached to a wire which is inserted into my skin," the 27-year-old paediatric dietician explains.

In addition to managing her blood sugar levels throughout the day, Niamh relied on the event's chaperones to tend to the equipment she needs on account of the condition.

"This was the hardest part of the process for me – having to hand over control and rely on other people to help manage my Diabetes," Niamh admits.

"I have had Type 1 for six years and have always managed it completely independently. This was the first time I had to hand over equipment or back ups and I felt so worried relinquishing control and had a couple of melt downs feeling like I was burdening everyone."

"I felt I was drawing unwanted attention on myself and never wanted my Diabetes to be seen as a burden and I felt it was. I entered the Rose of Tralee to raise awareness of certainly the struggles but also the triumphs that come alongside having Diabetes."

"I wanted to show it does not limit what you can achieve in life and if anything for me it has shaped the type of person I am and made me want to strive for more in my life. "

And it appears Niamh's mission did not go unnoticed, as she recalls her stand-out moment from the event which took place during the Saturday parade.

"The ultimate highlight for me was halfway through the parade when the other two Roses on my float started wildly hitting me to look over to the opposite side of the crowd," Niamh recalls.

"There was screaming and roaring coming from a mother pointing at her teenage daughter who was waving her insulin pump around. She said her name is Caitlyn, she has Type 1 Diabetes and had been following my journey."

"I'm beyond proud to be able to represent the Type 1 community and be a role model to all the Caitlin's out there," Niamh adds.

2017 saw Jennier Byrne from Co Offaly take this year's title – a triumph felt passionately by Niamh, who shared a room with the junior doctor throughout their time as Roses.

"She was first and foremost my saving grace and best friend in the competition. We were perfectly paired in humour, laid back attitude and even our outfit picks were almost identical on several occasions! " Niamh laughs.

"Jennifer was my rock and no more deserving girl could have won the title," she adds.

And would she do it all over again?

"In a literal heartbeat. It was the toughest but most enjoyable week of my life – a whirlwind of dual exhaustion and exhilaration, laughter and tears but above all memories I'll keep with me over in New Zealand and the best closure on Ireland I could ever ask for. "



In a groundbreaking development, scientists in New Zealand have discovered they indirectly developed a vaccine which protects against gonorrhoea.

Between 2004 and 2006, approximately one million adolescents were given the vaccine which was originally developed to stop the outbreak of meningitis B.

Interestingly, after analysing data obtained from sexual health clinics, researchers at the University of Auckland established that cases of gonorrhoea had fallen 31 per cent in those who had been vaccinated, thereby proving that the Men B jab provided 'cross protection'.

A report into the findings stated: "Exposure to MeNZB was associated with reduced rates of gonorrhoea diagnosis, the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea."

"These results provide a proof of principle that can inform prospective vaccine development not only for gonorrhoea but also for meningococcal vaccines."

With the sexually transmitted disease hitting the headlines for its apparent immunity to antibiotics, researchers are keen to highlight the significance of these findings.

"This is the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea," Dr Helen Petousis-Harris said.

"At the moment, the mechanism behind this immune response is unknown, but our findings could inform future vaccine development." 

The research has been published in the Lancet Journal.



We all know how difficult it is to find a good job, own your own home and provide for your family these days.

Yet, residents of Kaitangata, a small town in the South of New Zealand are reaching out for new residents to live in their town – for a very little price.

With a population of 800 people, local businesses and town authorities are trying to offer people from other parts of New Zealand, home and land-buying packages with extremely favourable terms.

They're hoping that people and families living in the city might be tempted to join the country lifestyle in the Clutha district, which has an estimated 1,000 jobs on offer.

According to Kaitangata's local mayor, Bryan Cadogen, there are "hundreds and hundreds of jobs, real good paying jobs that give a person a chance."

One of the town's leading recruiters, Evan Dick said: "The housing crisis in New Zealand has made the Kiwi dream unattainable for many people, but in Kaitangata, the Kiwi dream is still a reality.

"This is an old-fashioned community, we don't lock our houses, we let kids run free. We have jobs, we have houses, but we don't have people. We want to make this town vibrant again, we are waiting with open arms."

The houses and land packages are going for around NZ$230,000 (€147,000), which is practically unheard of these days.

"When I was unemployed and had a family to feed, Clutha gave me a chance, and now we want to offer that opportunity to other Kiwi families who might be struggling," Mayor Cadogen told The Guardian.

"We have got youth unemployment down to two. Not 2% – just two unemployed young people.

"So many of the things Kiwis value, such as owning your own home and providing for your family, have become an impossible dream. For a lot of people in New Zealand is just an endless slog. And that really saddens me."


We're not even joking a little bit when we tell you that an avocado shortage is fuelling a crime wave over in New Zealand.

Since the beginning of the year, New Zealand has seen nearly 40 large-scale robberies from avocado orchards, and police are saying that up to 350 individual fruits have been taken at a time.

This comes after farmers had a poor season last year which saw a lower amount of the crop grown. However, in 2015 an additional 96,000 households started to buy avocados in New Zealand and suppliers haven't been able to keep up.

According to The Guardian, the thefts took place in the middle of the night, with robbers using blankets to collect a few after "raking" them off the trees.

"These stolen avocados can carry risks," said Sergeant Aaron Fraser.

"They are unripe, some have been sprayed recently and they may still carry toxins on the skin. But with the prices so high at the moment, the potential for profit is a strong inducement for certain individuals."

However, the New Zealand Avocado CEO, Jen Scoular, said that farmers are becoming more savvy about protecting their crops now.



After a 16-month exercise that cost tax payers NZ$26 million (€16m), New Zealand has decided to keep its original flag.

A referendum took place on Thursday which shows 56.6 percent of people voting for the national flag instead of the new one, which critics saying it looks like a "beach towel," reports the Irish Times.

Almost 10,000 alternative flags were entered into a competition and a new flag which featured a silver fern and four red stars was voted to go up against the original. 

Those seeking the change wanted the Union Jack removed and said that it is too close to the design of Australia's national flag.

Today's results are only preliminary and the final results will be released on March 30, yet the decision is not expected to change. 



A flag with silver fern on a blue and black background and red stars will grace the new New Zealand flag. 

A recent referendum was delayed because of late and overseas voting, but the preliminary results were released last week. 

The country had five options to choose from (some of which were very weird) and a similar flag to the original was voted on under New Zealand's preferential voting system, where the public ranked the flags in order of their favourite.

The winning design will go into a head-to-head battle with the existing flag for a second referendum in March 2016 to decide if New Zealand will officially change it's historic flag. 

“We now have some time to consider the two flags side by side and have a good think about which one of them best represents us as a nation now and into the future,” deputy Prime Minister Bill English said. 


Having not one but TWO teams playing in a Rugby World Cup final is something us Irish folks can't really relate to, but for poor Annabelle it's a very real problem.

The youngster lives in Australia, but her mum Andrea Gatchell is a New Zealander, meaning she'll have to shout for both teams in today's RWC final clash.

Poor Annabelle… #thestruggleisreal#goallblacks #undecidedannabelle

Posted by Andrea Gatchell on Thursday, 29 October 2015

Choosing a favourite turned out to be a bit too much pressure for Annabelle yesterday, and her tearful meltdown has gone viral since her mum shared it on Facebook.

"'I really want to go for New Zealand but if Australia lose I'll be really sad … and if I go for Australia, you'll be really sad because you're a New Zealander," she says through her tears.

And when her mum asks who she would prefer to win all she can say is, "I don't KNOW."

Our heart goes out to little Annabelle… but she'll no doubt be celebrating no matter who wins.



The Coronas are supposed to be going on a world tour this November. However, it looks like New Zealand will be one country they will have to take off their wish-list.

Frontman Danny O’Reilly has admitted that he is a “wanted man” in the country and it doesn’t think he’ll be allowed in any time soon.

He was speaking with Spin 1038 when it was revealed that there is a warrant out for his arrest which means it is “proving difficult” for the band’s manager to sort out a visit for the boys.

“There is a warrant for my arrest and this is the most rock ‘n’ roll thing that’s ever happened to me, but I am going to say it’s for a speeding ticket so it is not that cool.”

He explained that he was 21 at the time and on a trip with his friends when he ended up getting himself into some trouble. The band's manager Jim Lawless has now been tasked with sorting out the issue so the band can get themselves in front of a New Zealand crowd. 

Before they jet off around the world though, the band will be playing some gigs closer to home. They have been scheduled to headline the Cork Jazz Festival on October 24, alongside acts such as the Boomtown Rats, Aslan, The Drifters and Gary Numan.

We can't help but wonder though, what does mom Mary Black think about Danny's criminal snafu?



With the Rugby World Cup in full swing across the water, we're being treated to a load of rather impressive Haka right now. 

What a pity though we missed one on our very doorstep – for a visiting New Zealand schools team delighted Co Kildare locals earlier this week with their impressive display.

Better still… the traditional war-cry took place in a service station branch of Supermac's.

Students from the Wairoa College Rugby Academy have certainly been making the most of the Irish leg of their European tour.

Indeed, their busy Facebook page has plenty of snaps of Dublin city centre (they, of course, made sure to visit the Aviva Stadium), as well as Roscrea College in Co Offaly and Dromore High School in Co Down. 

On Monday, the teenagers stopped in SuperMac's in Mayfield just off the M7 in Kildare – and when staff there asked them to perform a Haka, they happily obliged. 


Boys perform haka at Supermacs – Junction 14 Mayfield after special request from staff.

Posted by Wairoa College Rugby Academy on Monday, 21 September 2015


Numerous locals captured the unique moment on their phones – and a video of the incident uploaded onto the Wairoa College Facebook page has now been viewed more than 20,000 times. 

SuperMac's itself has even shared alternative footage to its own Facebook profile.


The Haka… in Supermac's!

Some visitors to Supermac's at Junction 14 Mayfield performed a version of the intimidating and fear-inducing Haka. Check it out below!Thanks to Martin McKeogh who posted the video on Twitter.

Posted by Supermac's on Tuesday, 22 September 2015


The U18s squad departed New Zealand on Saturday and are also touring England, Wales, Belgium, France and Dubai, where they will compete with fellow students.

Today, they attended morning assembly at Dromore High School, also tucking into a hearty full-Irish breakfast. 



So New Zealand has decided – after years of being mixed up with their closest large neighbour – that it wants a new flag.

And some of the suggestions are seriously cool.

Prime Minister John Key himself thinks his nation's flag is way too similar to the Australian one, with only the colour of the stars differentiating the two (yup, we get confused all the time).

The New Zealand public were allowed to make contributions of suggestions for the new flag, and with more than 10,000 entries, there were definitely some weird and wonderful ones.

Two of the weirder suggestions we spotted (and yes, that is a lazer beam coming from the bird's eyes in the second snap) include the following: 

However, sadly both the kiwi fruit design and the lazer-eyed bird have already been discarded – leaving a total of just 40 long-list finalists.

The government in Wellington wants the new flag to be introduced by next March and they are currently electing a Flag Consideration Panel to choose the right one. 

"A great flag should be distinctive and so simple it can be drawn by a child from memory," the panel announced in an open letter yesterday.

Many of the final 40 options include a silver fern which is a motif for many of New Zealand's sports teams. 

Blue, green, red, black and white are used prominently, while the Southern Cross and traditional looping Maori symbol the koru are also particularly popular.

Take a look at some of the final options:

Which one would you prefer?



Former All Blacks captain Jerry Collins has been killed this morning in an accident on a French motorway.

His wife of six months, Alana Madill, also died in the incident, while their three-month-old baby has been taken to hospital in Montpellier with serious injuries. She is in a critical condition.

The 34-year-old Samoan-born New Zealand player was in Herault in southern France at 4.30am local time when the vehicle the family was travelling in stalled, reports French publication Midi Libre. A bus travelling behind them then collided into their car.

Midi Libre has also reported that the car was thrown 10metres from the impact. It is believed that Mr Collins and Ms Madill died instantly. 

The bus drivers managed to remove the baby from the wreckage before emergency services arrived. Two passengers in that vehicle have also been injured.

“It is a travesty. Both Jerry and has partner have been killed. Their three-month-old baby is very badly injured. It is devastating news for his family and everybody,” Tim Castle, Collin's agent, told Stuff.co.nz

Jerry and Alana on their wedding day six months ago


“The news has shocked us all and our thoughts are with Jerry and Alana’s families at this terribly sad time.

“We offer our deepest condolences to them and will support them as they come to terms with this devastating news,” New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen also said.

Mr Collins' cousin, Vincent Collins, posted to social media: “In shock and disbelief after hearing of the passing of our beloved cousin Jerry Collins and his lovely wife.”

He added: “I was just smiling and laughing with my fiancé at some of his cute pictures with his daughter a couple of days ago, and here we are talking about this sad news and tragedy.

“Don't know what else to say but please pray for their three-month-old daughter as she is in critical condition.”

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll is among the big names who are paying tribute to Jerry this morning.

The rugby player notched up a total of 48 test matches with the All Blacks, three of which he was captain for.

After retiring from his international rugby career in 2008, he joined French side Toulon before moving to Wales to play for Ospreys.

He also spent two years in Japan but joined French second division side Narbonne in January.

Jerry was born in Apia, Samoa in November 1980 and much of his family remain on the Polynesian island.