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Family shares grief of losing three young sisters in Timaru tragedy –

The father of the three young sisters killed in Timaru last week says he will carry the loss for the rest of his life.
At a candlelight vigil held outside the Queen St address where, last Thursday night, Maya and Karla, 2, and Liana, 6, Dickason died, Rev Alan Cummins read a message from their father Graham Dickason, who thanked the community for its support and love.
He also asked that they continue to pray for him, his family and friends and his wife Lauren.
"My words are few at the moment,” he said.
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“On Thursday the 16th of September 2021 my life and Lauren’s were turned upside down when our three precious angels were ripped away from us.
“It is a loss that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."
He thanked ‘’the people of Timaru, New Zealanders, South Africans and many people from all over the world, we have been blessed with love and support”.
“My faith in humanity has been restored, I thank you all.
‘’In this time of terrible tragedy and adversity I can only ask for prayer for myself, my family and my friends.’’
He encouraged parents with young children to let them run free, ‘’remember to let them play wild, allow them to laugh as much as they can’’.
‘’I thank you for your love and support.’’
About 300 people gathered at the vigil where a message from Graham Dickason’s sisters and mother Betty were also read by Cummins.
‘’Liane was a typical big sister, always holding hands with and cuddling her siblings,” they said.
‘’Graham shared with us a video clip after her first day at school, and she seemed so excited about the new friends she had made.
‘’This happy memory will always stay with us.’’
They felt Liane ‘’would have loved growing up in this wholesome and caring community”.
They described Maya as “our little bag lady, always gathering dolls and toys, carrying them around in her little handbags”, while Karla was ‘’the brave one’’.
“Born with a cleft lip, she didn’t have the best start in life, but she overcame that, and ended up developing into a daring explorer and puzzle builder.
“Our father died late last year, leaving behind our mother and older sister in South Africa.’’
They said with sisters in Australia and England respectively, the move of Graham and his young family to New Zealand was tough for those staying back in South Africa.
“Despite that the world felt like a small place. However, this week, the distance between us has felt so great.
“We have all been incredibly touched at how this community has come together to support our brother.
“Even though he is new to your country, he has already forged close relationships with so many of you.’’
They thanked police and emergency workers at the scene, Timaru Hospital staff, Interpol, and the New Zealand Government “and all those who stood by him in these very darkest hours’’.
“We are deeply sad that we can’t all be with him due to current travel restrictions and procedural obstacles.’’
A message from Lauren’s parents, Malcolm and Wendy, was also read out by their Tauranga-based friend Peter De Graaf.
"We wish we could see you one more time,” they said.
“Come walking through the door, but we know that is impossible.
“We will hear your voices no more. No-one will ever know how much we adored you.
“You were the light of our lives and every minute spent with you was pure joy.
"Our hearts are broken and tears are flowing, ouma Wendy and oupa Malcolm.’’
Their mother, Lauren Anne Dickason, was charged with their murders, and appeared at the Timaru District Court on Saturday before being remanded to a secure facility at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch. Her next appearance is expected at the High Court at Timaru on October 5.
Speaking outside the house about 6pm, vigil organiser Jacqueline Harris said she hoped the Dickason family, in particular, would see how South Canterbury came together in times of grief.
She said there had been a “huge response’’ to the vigil, especially from the South African community in New Zealand and across the globe.
Harris said this was the largest event she has organised, but as a working mother of eight adult children – seven under seven at one stage – she has had ample experience in planning, organisation and scheduling.
She said the response to efforts to support the community and the Dickasons has been humbling, but “somebody’s got to do it, it might as well be me”.
At a less formal gathering on Saturday , people will gather at the Caroline Bay skate park, walk down to the beach and float flowers out to sea.
“In Māori tradition, we like to send our people home, so it’s combining that with the Christianity of the family” Harris, of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāpuhi, said.
“We want to send these little girl’s spirits home to God, because they’re a very Christian family.”
South African-based family members are sending floral tributes they would like included.
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