The head of Maritime New Zealand has told MPs it now knows it must engage better with the community if a similar disaster to the grounding of the cargo ship Rena happens again.
MNZ chairman David Ledson appeared before a parliamentary select committee for the organisation's financial review.
He said the agency did not initially understand how important it was to communicate and engage with the communities, including iwi.
"There was a threat to the environment which mattered intensely to a lot of people and so there was always going to be an emotional response.
"Emotional responses are very powerful, and you need to be sensitive to them, so I think that we'll certainly lift our game in that area."
Mr Ledson also said that while it is international best practice to not use volunteers in clean-ups, Maritime New Zealand would use them in the future.