8 Sep 2011

Oil firm to talk to iwi before drilling

6:31 am on 8 September 2011

Tag Oil says it won't be barging in to Hawke's Bay, Gisborne and the East Coast before it talks to iwi.

An oil and gas producer has contracted the Apache Corporation to start drilling in what's known as the East Coast Basin early next year. The drilling will be on land - not out at sea.

There hasn't been much exploration in the region, only a couple of dozen wells have been drilled in the past 100 years or so.

Tag Oil says it can only now reveal its plans to tribes and community groups, because it had to sign a confidential business deal first.

Chief operating officer Drew Cadenhead says the American firm doing the drilling will respect the tangata whenua.

He says the Apache Corporation spend hundreds of millions of dollars around the world to ensure environmental sensibility and are sensitive to indigenous people.

Mr Cadenhead says the oil workers won't be barging in without having many, many discussions with local people, especially Maori.

He says he's getting good advice on how to engage with iwi, from the head of Ngati Ruanui in Taranaki.