The names of two men believed to have been killed in a plane crash near Dargaville have been released.

They were plane owner and pilot Dean Voelkerling, 53, of Kamo and friend Paul Fabien Rawiri, 45, of Leamington.

Police said formal identification procedures were still underway.

"Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the families during this difficult time," a police spokeswoman said.

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The duo were in the plane that was seen to break up before it crashed into farmland at Te Kopuru soon after midday on Monday.

Mr Voelkerling started pilot training while working as an advanced paramedic for the Wellington Free Ambulance and crewing the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

After working as a dedicated advanced paramedic for more than 20 years, he changed careers and started as a co-pilot with Northland Emergency Services Trust in 2004.

He worked his way up the ranks to captain and held the position of Operations Manager.
During his time in Northland he helped other rescue services including Australia and Solomon Islands.