New Zealand police are investigating the murder of three young South African children who were found dead at a home in Timaru in the Canterbury region.

Graham Dickason, a doctor from Pretoria found the bodies of his twin daughters Maya and Karla, 3, and their older sister Liane, 7 on Friday.

Dickason and his wife Laura – who is also a doctor – along with their children moved to New Zealand last month and had been Timaru for just a week after coming out of New Zealand’s strict managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ).

According to various news outlets in New Zealand Dickason arrived home and found his daughters dead. His wife was in the home and taken to Timaru Hospital and is in a stable condition.

According to police no one else was being investigated in relation to the deaths.

News website, stuff.co.nz reported that emergency services arrived at the Queen Street home in the suburb of Parkside shortly after 10pm local time but the girls could not be saved

Dickason reportedly called for help, and neighbours overheard him screaming and yelling, saying: “Is this really happening?”

According to Stuff, detectives have since opened a homicide inquiry and the suspected killer – a woman – was in hospital in a stable condition.

Speaking to Stuff on Friday, Lauren’s parents Wendy and Malcolm Fawkes said they were “devastated” to hear of the tragedy.

“The extended families are in a state of shock as we try to understand what happened. We ask for your prayers and support during this very difficult time.

“We would also request privacy as we battle to come to terms with what has happened.

“We would like to thank the staff of Timaru Hospital for their support at this difficult time … and the New Zealand police for their attention to this matter.”

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