10 Sep 2015

Tension over East Coast oil exploration

9:35 am on 10 September 2015

Māori on the East Coast are gearing up to oppose plans to explore for oil and gas off Gisborne, saying the environmental risks outweigh any economic benefits.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges has opened consultation on four proposed offshore exploration blocks.

One of them stretches from East Cape in the north to the lower South Island - a total of 68,661 square kilometres.

Gisborne district councillor Josh Wharehinga said Māori did not want drilling in their rohe because they were worried about the potential environmental damage.

He said the clean-up response from the government in the event of a spill was minimal.

In September 2014, Canada-based TAG Oil stopped exploration at a site near Gisborne due to dangerous drilling conditions.