Grace’s body was formally identified on Wednesday after she went missing from a hostel in Auckland on December 1.
The man, who can’t be named for legal reasons, played for a number of top sporting teams, including a New Zealand under-19 side, the NZ Herald reported.
He’s on remand after appearing in Auckland District Court on Monday charged with Grace’s murder. He will next appear in the city’s High Court on January 23.
It comes as hundreds of people back in Grace’s home town of Wickford, in Essex, paid tribute to the 22-year-old at a vigil.
Grace’s mum Gillian and brothers Declan and Michael were among the 200 people lighting candles outside the Fox and Hounds pub.
Cops said Grace’s family were “in the process of organising to take her home” as their investigation into the circumstances of her death continues.
Her devastated family said: “Grace went off to travel the world in mid-October and arrived in New Zealand on the 20th November.
"By the amount of pictures and messages we received, she clearly loved this country, its people and the lifestyle.
"We all hope that what has happened to Grace will not deter even one person from venturing out into the world and discovering their own OE (overseas experience)."
Calling the crime "heinous", the family also paid tribute to investigating officers for completing a "concise, stringent and thorough investigation".
They added: "We would like to thank the people of New Zealand for their outpouring of love, numerous messages, tributes and compassion.
"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."
Police initially launched a missing person inquiry for the University of Lincoln graduate after her parents became concerned that she did not reply to birthday wishes sent on December 2.
The last confirmed sighting of Ms Millane, from Essex, was at 9.41pm on December 1, at the Citylife Hotel, when she was seen with a "male companion".
A week later, on December 8, police said they were treating the case as a murder investigation and a day later a body was found in the Waitakere Ranges 10 metres away from the road.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said on Tuesday that detectives were searching for a shovel.
He said: “At this point we don’t know where this item is. It could be anywhere between the Scenic Drive and central Auckland areas. Someone may have come across it, picked it up and taken it home. We need to speak to that person or anyone who has seen it.”
Officers said they have received "hundreds" of calls about the case and investigators are trying to establish a timeline of events.
On Monday, New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern gave an emotional apology to Grace’s family, saying: "Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn't, and I'm sorry for that."
"I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they would be experiencing and feeling right now."
Her brother, Declan Millane, paid tribute by sharing pictures on social media of him and his sister, adding the lyrics of You Are My Sunshine.
He wrote on Instagram: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
It has since emerged the man accused of the murder was due to go on a Tinder date on the night Grace was killed but cancelled it.
He is reported to have dated a number of Brit backpackers and liked “the admiration of young females”.
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