A team working on the new highway between the Manawatū and Hawke's Bay have uncovered moa bones.
The discovery was made on 9 March during excavation work on the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway.
Transport Agency Waka Kotahi said the team found a variety of bones from at least two individual smaller sized moa.
"The largest complete moa bones found so far include a tibia bone approximately 350mm long and two femur bones of varying lengths, both from the right side which indicates at least two moa. A pelvis bone, vertebra and other leg bones have also been uncovered."
There were further bird bone fragments still to be analysed.
Waka Kotahi owner interface manager Lonnie Dalzell said it was not every day one dug a hole and came across bones from extinct animals, and the team was very excited.
"It's not unusual on projects like this for us to uncover animal bones, midden, and sometimes even koiwi, but moa bones are rare.
"We believe it is one of the first moa bones finds in the area, and is an amazing discovery for our project whānau and the region."
Following the find, the earthworks were halted and the area cordoned off until archaeologist Patrick Harsveldt and kaitiaki representatives could inspect the bones.
Kaitiaki coordinator Terry Hapi said it was important proper tikanga was followed.
"We were concerned the find could potentially be koiwi, but we were all very excited when we realised these were moa bones."
Harsveldt described the discovery as of great significance.
"Archaeological investigations are currently continuing to determine whether there is any evidence of human activity in association with the moa bones, such as butchery marks."