The father of three little girls allegedly murdered in their Timaru home a week ago by their mother has written about his "three precious angels".
And he says he has forgiven his wife and feels she is as much a victim in the tragedy as the slain siblings.
Graham Dickason penned a letter which was read at a candlelight vigil held by the community outside the house where his daughters were killed last Thursday night.
He arrived home from a work function to find twins Maya and Karla Dickason, 2, and their 6-year-old sister Liané dead at their Queen St home.
The girls' mother Lauren was found unresponsive and rushed to Timaru Hospital - across the road from the house.
On Friday night police charged Lauren with murdering the three children.
She appeared in the Timaru District Court on Saturday morning.
At last night's vigil the first words from Graham Dickason were shared with the public.
His letter spoke of his "three precious angels being ripped away".
"It is a loss I will carry with me for the rest of my life … my words are few," he said.
"In this time of terrible tragedy and adversity I can only ask for prayer … for strength and for healing.
"Please also pray for my lovely Lauren for I honestly believe she is a victim in this as well.
"I have already forgiven her and I urge you in your own time to do the same … it is the key to healing this loss we have all experienced."
"For those with young children … remember to let them run free. Let them laugh as much as they can … I thank you for your love and support."
Dickason's mother Betty and sisters also wrote a letter that was read.
"We are all struggling to comprehend how and why this happened … the girls were much loved by us all," they said in their tribute.
"LIane was a typical big sister … always holding hands."
Their letter spoke of the last video Graham sent home of the little girl who had started at a new school in Timaru two days before she was allegedly murdered.
"She seemed so excited about the new friends she had made," they said.
They also spoke of the twins, saying Maya was known for carrying around dolls.
"Karla was the brave one born with a cleft lip, she didn't have the best start in life, but she overcame that and became an explorer," they said.
Graham Dickason's family said his move to New Zealand with the children was hard, "tough" but they stayed close.
The alleged murders were another blow after his father died last year.
"We take comfort he is now united with those little angels taking care of them," the family said.
"This week the distance between us has felt so great."
They were "incredibly touched" by the outpouring of love and support from New Zealanders and thanked police, first responders, hospital staff, Interpol and the Government for their help and support.
"In our darkest hour this has been simply overwhelming," they said.
"Thank each and every one of you."
Lauren Dickason's parents Wendy and Malcolm Fawkes also wrote a message to the girls - their "angels".
"We wish we could see you one more time … we will hear you voices no more," they said.
"You were the light of our lives … our hearts are broken, our tears are flowing."
Last night's vigil, which started at 7pm, was organised by Hampers of Hope founder Jacqueline Harris.
Harris also stepped in to help the families of five Timaru teens killed in a crash last month.
She told the Herald that the wider Dickason family were touched by the gestures of kindness and support from the community.
She said she had been speaking with Graham Dickason who was moved by the plans for the vigil and that he and his family had input in the choice of readings and music.
People spoken to by the Herald on the street last night said they were there to remember the girls and show support for the family.
One woman said she was "still numb".
"It will take a while to really comprehend this, especially in Timaru," she said.
Hundreds of people lined the street, some placing flowers at the driveway where new photos of the victims had been displayed on a pink board amid colourful butterfly cutouts.
Most people carried their own candles but organisers handed candles out to others.
Harris said the night was about "love and unity" and to show both Graham and Lauren Dickason they were in the hearts and thoughts of Kiwis.
Timaru Hospital chaplain Reverend Alan Cummins led the vigil - set against a backdrop of a stunning pink spring sunset and the peaceful sound of evening birdsong.
As dusk settled over Queen St the crowd became silent and the glow of candles punctuated the growing darkness.
"We've come to this vigil to honour and remember the three young girls who died here tragically here last week," he said.
"We also pray for Graham and Lauren, the parents of these three lovely girls."
Cummins said the vigil was sacred and special and aligned with a second vigil taking place at the same time in South Africa.
"We offer our love, support, tears … to Lauren and Graham's family," he went on.
Cummins said the Dickson's were "committed Christians" and that was reflected in the "very sad and very poignant" vigil.
The night was not about answering "why" it was about paying tribute and respect to the slain children.
Cummins encouraged people to be helpful, kind and encouraging toward the "lovely" Dickason family.
He urged people not to speak about them unless it was "truth, respectful and kind".
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• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
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