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Video: Spell-binding footage shows 'Kermit' the four metre-long great white shark playing with camera belonging to Kiwi researchers

Massey University researchers have captured amazing footage of a huge great white shark playing with a piece of their underwater survey equipment near the Kermadec Islands.

The shark - a four-metre long male affectionately named 'Kermit' - was filmed repeatedly picking up a camera rig from the ocean floor, taking it to the surface and dropping it again.

Dr Adam Smith of Massey said the team was in the area surveying for sharks as part of a project called Global Fin Print.

"The shark is attracted by some big pieces of tuna, which are in that bait canister that you see in the footage," Dr Smith said.

"He smells it, it smells good, he's turning up to have a look.

These images were taken as part of a worldwide effort to survey sharks in tropical regions. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's not like anything he's ever encountered before; it's hard, it's metal and so he's actually quite confused.

"He plays with it for a bit, then he realises there's not a feed to be had, and he moves on."

Dr Smith says Kermit was probably migrating between New Zealand and the tropics when he stopped to find some food on the way.

"Great white sharks, we know from tagging studies, migrate from New Zealand to the tropics - so the Kermadecs are like a stop half-way where they can have a rest and find a feed."

Kermit is estimated to be about twenty years old and fully mature - male great whites typically grow to a length of about four metres on average, with females up to over six.

They are classified as having a vulnerable conservation status under the IUCN standards.