International oil exploration company Apache Corporation says it's been a real learning curve trying to allay the concerns of Maori in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne-East Coast about its plans.
The company has been contracted by Tag Oil to drill on land in both regions.
Apache's senior project adviser, Alex Ferguson of Vancouver, says community meetings have provided a great opportunity for the company to learn about Maori culture and understand their anxieties.
He accepts people have fears about oil exploration in their backyard but says he's been pleasantly surprised with how engaging locals have been.
Mr Ferguson says Apache will continue to hold community meetings to keep locals up to date.
He says the company is on track to start drilling some test holes in central Hawke's Bay early in 2012.