Erma Carr had a generous heart.

She was the kind of woman who welcomed people into her home, helped at her children's school and enjoyed socialising with friends and loved ones.

On Sunday, her life was cut short tragically when the medical evacuation plane she and her husband Laurence were on crashed into a resort area in the Philippines.

Laurence, who was in his 70s, had become unwell and was being transported to a hospital in Manila.

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All nine people on board died.

Rescuers look at the site where a plane crashed in Laguna, south of Manila, in the Philippines. Photo / Supplied
Rescuers look at the site where a plane crashed in Laguna, south of Manila, in the Philippines. Photo / Supplied

The couple had been in the Philippines since March with their two youngest children Nina and Nino, both students at Ruakaka Primary School.

They were due to come home later this month - after celebrating their birthdays next week.

Images from social media show endless photographs of their trip - celebrating birthdays and a graduation, visiting sick loved ones in a hospital and enjoying time at the beach, shopping malls, temples and family gatherings.

Friend Fortunato Boquia, who lives in Whangarei but is in the Philippines, said the children, whom they adopted from Erma's sister two years ago, were waiting at the hospital for them when the crash happened.

They were informed straight away of their parents' deaths and are being cared for by family while funeral arrangements are being discussed.

"It's really shocking," he said. "They are great people, they used to come to our Whangarei Filipino Society gatherings. They are so supportive of the Filipino community."

Their eldest son Vincent, who turns 20 today, was in New Zealand and is now with an aunt in Northland.

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Laurence also had three adult children from an earlier relationship.

The couple lived at a rural property in One Tree Point at Ruakaka in Northland - Laurence had been there all of his life while Erma joined him after they married in the Philippines 23 years ago.

Laurence Carr and Erma Carr were killed in a plane crash at Laguna south of Manilla in the Philippines.
Laurence Carr and Erma Carr were killed in a plane crash at Laguna south of Manilla in the Philippines.

Family friend Ross Johnson said the popular couple would be missed.

He said Erma, who was in her 50s, was very hospitable and well known for celebrating family birthdays in style and invited lots of locals and friends to parties at the couple's house.

"Erma also got involved with Ruakaka School, helping out with projects. She really got involved in the community that way.

"She has such a generous heart ... she was so hospitable and she loved children."

Grace Johnson said Erma utilised living by the ocean and enjoyed catching crabs and going fishing.

"This will be a real shock for the community. She was very popular and very social."

Canadian friend Braeden Murphy spent time in New Zealand with the couple and their children, including eldest son Vincent. Photo / Supplied
Canadian friend Braeden Murphy spent time in New Zealand with the couple and their children, including eldest son Vincent. Photo / Supplied

Canadian friend Braeden Murphy described the couple as "amazing souls".

"I am not from New Zealand but I had the pleasure of meeting them during my short stay there. I became close with them as we would often share dinners."

He told the Herald Erma loved to cook and hated the idea of anyone going hungry.

"Erma always made sure I had a full belly with some great food. She loved to cook and I always loved to eat. We really grew quiet close."

"To show my gratitude for everything they did for us we spent quite a bit of time helping around the property, cutting the lawn, trimming trees and building the garden. They absolutely loved it."

He said Laurence was getting older and less mobile so he appreciated the help. He has fond memories of them dancing while doing some tiling.

"It was quite a crack-up."

He said it was "a real blessing" to have not only met but become friends with the couple.

"They were my home away from home."

Murphy said it was difficult to talk about their deaths but wanted people to know how special they were.

"New Zealand is an absolutely beautiful country but it was knowing people like the Carr family that made it truly special."

Rescuers assess the damage following the crash. Photo / Supplied
Rescuers assess the damage following the crash. Photo / Supplied

Eric Apolonio, a spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the light plane disappeared from radar for unknown reasons as it flew over Laguna, about 60km south of the capital.

The nine people on board the plane included two pilots, two nurses, a doctor and two other people, police said. Two people on the ground were injured.