Two people were killed instantly when a light aeroplane plunged into farmland south of Dargaville soon after midday today.

Farm workers who witnessed the tragedy saw pieces of ''debris'' fall from the north-bound plane seconds before it plummeted into a dairy paddock at Tatarariki, 4km south of Te Kopuru, at about 12.20pm.

Farm owner Terry Brenstrum, who was not on site at the time, said his staff told him they saw pieces fly off the blue and green plane about a kilometre south of where it ploughed into the paddock alongside the Northern Wairoa River.

Along with the police response, which included the Serious Crash Unit and Search and Rescue, two fire crews from Dargaville and three from nearby Te Kopuru attended the scene.

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Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said the bodies were to be removed tonight and would be taken to Auckland for a post mortem examination and official identification before their names were released.

He said the crash had happened on private property and there was no public access. A guide would remain at the scene overnight.

The Civil Aviation Authority had been notified and was arriving tomorrow to start its own investigation.

After the CAA inspection was completed the wreckage would be removed.

It is the second fatal air crash in Northland inside two months.

On November 16, Russell resident Ricco Legler, 72, died when his glider crashed near Kaikohe.

The alarm was raised late in the afternoon when Mr Legler, a highly experienced pilot, failed to return to Kaikohe aerodrome after a solo flight.

The wreckage was found about 3km northwest of the aerodrome later that evening.

Coincidentally, a third but not fatal plane crash occurred last April on another dairy farm only14km north of where yesterday's tragedy occurred.

In that incident, a man and woman walked away with minor injuries after crash landing in a paddock on Pouto Rd, south of Dargaville, after their two-seater Zenair plane developed engine trouble.

The pilot had made a perfect emergency landing on a flat paddock, the most serious damage done when the plane crashed through a fence before stopping.

Had the pilot carried on flying another 100 metres or so he would have hit a hillside.