Canterbury University researchers studying the first European interactions with Maori have discovered evidence of what could be New Zealand's oldest existing maritime structure - and a site of national importance.
Maritime history student Dr Rosanne Hawarden found more detail when she enlarged a high resolution scan of the first printed image of New Zealand and the Maori people during Abel Tasman's first visit to New Zealand in 1642.
Embedded in one of the images and all but invisible to the naked eye are a dozen tiny canoes on beaches.
This is the first printed image of Maori watercraft on land or at anchor.
Dr Hawarden and independent scholar Rudiger Mack made several trips out to sea to find the exact place from which the original Dutch drawings were made.
The canoe beaches can be identified in the landscape with two of them - Taupo Point and Takapou in Wainui Bay, which is part of Golden Bay in the South Island - being recorded archaeological sites.