The Family Court made an order granting Rosemary Perkin's estranged husband access to their three daughters just hours before she killed the girls and took her own life.

Nelson District Court registrar Ian Pask said yesterday that Mrs Perkin and her husband, Patrick, had been involved in a Nelson Family Court hearing last Tuesday.

On Friday, Judge Pat Grace released his decision, which granted access to the children to Mr Perkin.

Mrs Perkin was discovered dead in the basement of her Songer St home shortly before 10 am on Sunday.

Her daughters, Alice, aged 8, Maria, 6, and 23-month-old Cherie were found dead in their beds after Mrs Perkin's father called at the house. They are believed to have died some time on Friday.

Mr Perkin's lawyer, Brett Daniell-Smith, confirmed yesterday that an access hearing had taken place last week but declined to comment further.

He said he was to attend a meeting involving Judge Grace to discuss the case.

Two bunches of flowers had been placed on the steps of the Perkin home yesterday.

An inquest has been tentatively set down for November 6.

A joint funeral service is being organised for the three girls at Stoke's St Barnabas Anglican Church on Friday before a burial ceremony at Marsden Valley Cemetery. A private ceremony will be held for Mrs Perkin on Saturday.

Detective Sergeant Wayne McCoy said the results of autopsies on the four showed Mrs Perkin died of injuries consistent with asphyxiation.

He would say only that the children died of "unnatural causes."

No poison was found in the house but he would not say if there was any evidence of sleeping pills.

Detective Sergean McCoy said further tests were being carried out, along with forensic analysis of a note apparently left in the house by Mrs Perkin, to check fingerprints and handwriting.

Police were also still waiting to speak to her doctor as part of their investigations into her medical history.

Senior Sergeant Bob Burns said staff who had been involved in the investigation were being offered a counselling debriefing.

"A lot of our staff have young children and it's distressing to find children in this way," he said.

Nelson Mayor Paul Matheson said the deaths highlighted the gaps that still existed in the community's support systems.

"If the weekend's tragedy says anything, it says that we aren't completely in touch with our community," he said.

Despite the network that organisations such as churches and councils tried to provide, there were still gaps which the Perkin family appeared to have fallen through.

"We have got to find ways to fill those gaps," he said. "We have got to ask why.

"We've got to be close enough ... to be able to say, 'I'm here any old time, talk to me'."

Stoke businessman Philip Jordan spoke of his disbelief at what had happened in the Perkin home, after seeing the police cars outside while he was heading to work on Sunday.

"I feel extremely sad for the children," he said.

"Their lives have been taken away. They didn't have a chance.

"It just blows you away. You see these things on TV but when it happens in your own backyard it's a real shock."

- NZPA