Young Jin Baek arrived from South Korea last week to arrange the funerals of his wife and two daughters, who were found dead in their Christchurch home.

But two hours before the service was due to start on Sunday, the 44-year-old was found dead in his car.

His wife, Sung Eun Cho, 43, and daughters Kelly Yeon Sue Baek, 13, and Holly Yeon Jae Baek, 17, were found dead at home in Avonhead on Wednesday.

Mr Baek had stayed at the house after arriving in the city on Friday.

He wanted to be alone in his wife's bed on the night before the funeral, but in the early hours he drove away in his car and was later found dead.

Police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

South Korean Embassy spokeswoman Monica Kang said a senior embassy representative had been in Christchurch since the weekend to work with police and help the Korean community deal with the deaths.

"To hear that the father has also died is a terrible, terrible shock for many in the community," said Ms Kang.

Local Korean community leader Kevin Park said Mr Baek was devastated by the deaths of his family and had shunned the support of many in the community.

Mr Baek's lawyer, John Yoon, said he spent the night with his client before his death and it was his wish that his matters remain private.

"I'm just, in a way, happier that he is in a better place now, with his family up there," Mr Yoon said.

An acquaintance who did not want to be identified said the family had faced financial difficulties and recently sold their Christchurch home.

She said Ms Cho was in New Zealand on a work permit - which was being questioned by the Immigration Service - and the daughters were on student permits.

The girls' school, St Andrew's College, was planning a memorial service.

The three had been in New Zealand for six years. Mr Baek had been working in South Korea to support his family in New Zealand, she said.

"Cho is a very reserved and shy person, and was very depressed about having to deal with immigration alone without the help of her husband."

The Herald understands an immigration officer found the bodies when he visited the house after Ms Cho had failed to keep an appointment.

A Korean friend, who attended the same temple as Ms Cho, formally identified the bodies.

Immigration New Zealand said yesterday it could not comment because the matter was before the coroner.

Auckland Korean Society vice-president Audrey Chung said the deaths should act as a wake-up call to the plight of many Korean mothers in New Zealand.

"Many Korean mothers choose to remain here because they want to accompany their children, but their husbands have to work in South Korea because there are no jobs for them here so they are forced to live apart."

As a result of the tragedy, the society would discuss setting up a support network or telephone helpline to help Korean families.

"This is the first time that a whole Korean family have died, and the news has shocked every Korean here," Ms Chung said.

Of the 17,619 guardianship visas issued by Immigration New Zealand since 2004 for a parent or caregiver to accompany their children during their study time in New Zealand, nearly 14,000 were to South Koreans.

Mr Baek's sister and brother-in-law are also in Christchurch, where a service for Mr Baek is due to be held today.