The Northland Regional Council is defending its decision to meet Norway's Statoil company reps behind closed doors this week.
The petroleum giant has two exploration permits to prospect for deep-sea oil in the Reinga Basin, about 100 kilometres off Northland's west coast.
The work programme involves collecting seismic data and doing seafloor surveys in the first three years.
The council's Maori Advisory Committee chair Dover Samuels had invited Radio New Zealand News to attend the meeting on Friday.
But council chairman Bill Shepherd announced the meeting with Statoil representatives would be a closed workshop, with no media or public allowed in.
He said there were strong views for and against deep sea oil drilling, and the council wanted its questions about the process answered in what he called a structured way.
Mr Shepherd said reporters would be able to question Statoil outside the worshop.