A Tauranga iwi is unhappy to have found out about an oil spill only through the media and press releases from Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
The spill on Monday covered about 300 metres of coastal vegetation at the southern end of the harbour, near Maungatapu Peninsula which is populated by a wide variety of birdlife.
A council spokesperson did not yet know how much oil had gone into the area but said it amounted to more than hundreds of litres.
A spokesperson for the Tauranga Moana Iwi Chairs Forum is critical of what he describes as a lack of communication and adherence to protocol in not informing the group directly when the spill occurred.
Charlie Tawhiao said the group had had to rely on second-hand reports until the issue was raised with the council yesterday.
Mr Tawhiao said the council should ring iwi as soon as a spill occured.