A dad was left inconsolable when he came home to find his three little girls dead and was heard screaming "is this really happening?"

Graham Dickason had just moved into the property with his three children and wife Lauren, 40, who has been arrested and charged with the murder of their twin girls and older daughter.

The triple-tragedy has rocked the city of Timaru, New Zealand, with neighbours telling Stuff news website they heard haunting wails and a woman sobbing at the house before a man returned home.

Police allege Lauren killed her twin daughters Maya and Karla, two, and their older sister Liane, six, at their new home.

Doctor Lauren and surgeon husband Graham had moved into the property recently with their three children from South Africa just a week before.

Reports said he returned home shortly before 10pm that night and discovered his three little girls were dead.

Those living nearby claim they heard a bang and then the sounds of sobbing and moaning from the property around 20 minutes beforehand.

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Jade Whaley said: "The first noise we heard was somebody sobbing, and then we heard a loud thud like someone just slammed a door.

"We could see someone through our fence wandering behind the house and wailing."

Karen Cowper, another neighbour, said she heard a man shout out: "Is this really happening?" just after 10pm.

The children's mother was reportedly seen being taken away in an ambulance.

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Authorities said she was treated in hospital then charged with her three childrens' murder the following day.

Mrs Dickason's parents, Wendy and Malcolm Fawkes told the news site they were "devastated" to learn of their grandchildren's deaths.

They added their family was in shock and asked for prayers as they try to understand and come to terms with what happened.

Police told journalists at a press conference no one else was being sought in connection with the deaths.

Mrs Dickason previously worked as a GP in Pretoria, South Africa, according to her social media profiles.

In recent pictures, she had uploaded photos of herself beaming and kissing her twin girls and embracing her husband.

Mrs Dickason is due to appear in Timaru District Court on Saturday.

New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the deaths were "absolutely tragic."

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