A dig at what is believed to be one of New Zealand's earliest human settlements will be open to the public this week.

Archaeologists, hapū members and volunteers have been busy at the site, at Mangahawea Bay on Moturua Island in the Bay of Islands, since last Monday and are ready to share what they have found so far.

The dig is a continuation of excavations carried out last year which made some tantalising findings, backing up the hapū's long-held views of the bay's significance.

Transport to the island is not provided but visitors who make their own way to the bay on Thursday, January 17 between 9am and noon will get a guided tour of the site with explanation of any artefacts uncovered so far.


Visitors should land at Waiwhapuku Bay (also called Camp Bay) and walk over the hill to nearby Mangahawea Bay.

Previous finds at the well-preserved site include a pā kahawai fishing lure thought to be made of local material (pāua) but to a Polynesian design, which suggests it was made by some of the first people to arrive in New Zealand.

Other discoveries include hāngi pits, moa bones and a limpet called Cellana denticulata, which became extinct around the time humans arrived.

The excavation is a joint initiative between the Arakite Trust, Heritage New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and the University of Otago and is funded by Lottery's Tuia-Encounters 250 programme. The grant will also fund a traditional knowledge wānanga and a carved pouwhenua to be erected at the bay.