A discovery on a Norfolk Island walking track could rewrite the history of Polynesian settlement in the Pacific. Objects that appear to be ancient cutting tools have been retrieved during excavations in Norfolk Island National Park at a site first identified four years ago by local "citizen scientist" Snowy Tavener. The find is being called "priceless." "For many years, I've been walking this track searching for evidence of a new Polynesian site on our island," Mr Tavener said in a statement released by the Australian Museum. "So when I came across these flakes (stone tools), I couldn't believe my eyes." "The track is an extremely popular bushwalking path and has been driven and walked over for hundreds of years. But before we told the wider community about our find, I wanted it confirmed by archaeologists. "I showed the site to my friend Deb Jorgensen, who has a daughter, Nicola Jorgensen, studying Archaeology at the University of Sydney under Dr Amy Mosig Way from the Australian Museum. "Nicola was immediately interested and so she and her supervisor came over last year to confirm that it was indeed a potential new Polynesian site." Preliminary excavations began on October 24. Now completing her Master's degree, Ms Jorgensen said the flakes and adzes are made from basalt and are a tangible link to the Polynesian heritage of Norfolk Island. "The number of artefacts not only indicates the level of activity that occurred on the site, but also confirms that this... [was] made by the original Polynesian ancestors, with the other first settlement site being located at Emily Bay," Ms Jorgensen said. Reflecting on the importance of the find, she said it was exciting to her that this research commenced with local knowledge. "I grew up here on beautiful Norfolk Island and, like Snowy, feel proud to call it home. Local conservation efforts and preservation of our flora, fauna and historical sites can not only help advance scientific studies, but are also more likely to deliver positive outcomes for our community." Dr Way said the significance of the discovery is that it demonstrates the extent of the Polynesian settlement across the island. "No longer can the idea of Polynesians inhabiting the island be thought of as fleeting," Dr Way said. "The artefacts can provide us with an understanding of the behaviours, the possessions and the movement of the former Polynesian inhabitants. "What is particularly exciting, is the preservation of the artefacts, despite the traffic that has occurred on this track during the last few hundred years." Norfolk Island National Park Manager Nigel Greenup said that the discovery of the adze was significant. "This discovery... indicates historical links with Polynesian people who first called Norfolk Island home, well before colonial settlement," he said. "We will continue to work with the community and archaeologists to conserve this cultural heritage." Australian Museum Chief Scientist Professor Kris Helgen, acknowledged that the keen observations and persistence shown by Mr Tavener had been the key to the extraordinary find. "Incorporating local knowledge into our analysing and collecting methods is integral to the Australian Museum's scientific research," Prof. Helgen said. "I am impressed not only by Snowy's knowledge but also the enthusiasm and pride of the whole local community. I know we are all thrilled by these discoveries." The items have been carefully excavated, retrieved and recorded to ensure they are well-documented and conserved. IN OTHER NEWS: Once the dig is finished, the artefacts will be analysed and catalogued by the scientists, with the findings and acknowledgement of the local community to be included in a scientific paper. The artefacts will initially be stored on Norfolk Island while a process of community consultation is undertaken to seek views on their long-term preservation and display. Funded through the Australian Museum Foundation, the Norfolk Island expedition is a collaboration with the Norfolk Island community, Parks Australia, the Australian Institute of Botanical Science and the Auckland War Memorial Museum. This expedition is a broad-scale, multi-pronged collaborative program of biodiversity surveys and archaeological fieldwork and is taking place over three phases.