Two people are being sent to an uninhabited Maori-owned island on the edge of the exclusion zone around the grounded cargo ship Rena in the Bay of Plenty.
The pair will be the eyes and ears on Tuhua, or Mayor Island, watching to see if any oil leaking from the ship's fuel tanks reaches the shoreline.
Both men have been on an oil spill response training programme run by Maritime New Zealand.
Board spokesperson Jason Ake says oil might never arrive but guardians are preparing for the worse. He says there's still the issue of vulnerable wildlife being fouled by pollution as they make their way to Motiti Island.
The island, a marine reserve run by the Tuhua Trust Board, is open to the public between Labour Weekend and Easter.