A 40-year-old woman has been charged with killing three young girls in New Zealand.

Police did not immediately identify the woman but the Stuff news agency said she was the girls’ mother, Lauren Dickason, a doctor who had just moved to New Zealand from South Africa along with her daughters and husband Graham Dickason, an orthopaedic surgeon.

Emergency services said that when they responded to an incident at the home in the South Island town of Timaru they found a woman, who was admitted to hospital in a stable condition.

Police said they had earlier given incorrect ages for the girls – twin two-year-old girls Maya and Karla and their six-year-old sister Liane.

The family had moved into housing for medical professionals near the Timaru Hospital less than a week earlier. Before that, as new arrivals to the country, they would have been required to spend two weeks in a coronavirus quarantine hotel run by the military.

Stuff reported that Graham Dickason returned home just before 10pm on Thursday and found the bodies of his daughters.

Police said they were not looking for any other suspects.

New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the deaths were “absolutely tragic” and his heart went out to everybody associated with the family.