The use of dinosaurs to promote an oil industry roadshow is a "cynical ploy", says a curator at Whanganui Regional Museum.

The roadshow What Lives Down Under is touring South Taranaki and Wanganui to explain the work of New Zealand Gas & Oil, Beach Energy and Tag Oil. It has a large dinosaur on the side of the roadshow big truck and the image is used in the promotional material.

The museum's curator of natural history, Mike Dickison, says dinosaurs have nothing to do with oil.

"It was not an educational show at all but is entirely funded by the gas and oil industry to convince kids that drilling is safe and cool."


The roadshow website linked oil and dinosaurs saying "the gas in your family's car might have been a dinosaur", which Dr Dickison said was incorrect.

"Petrol comes from bacterial mats and organic matter on the ocean floor, from millions of years before dinosaurs existed.

"Coal comes from buried swamp plants. The dinosaur posters seem to be a cynical ploy to attract kids."

He also took issue with the timeline which said dinosaurs were around one million years ago.

"There were no dinosaurs stamping around a million years ago. They were wiped out 65 million years ago."

He said "for a supposedly educational resource, the site is full of factual errors."

He had not seen the roadshow but said the website looked as though it had been written by marketing people, not scientists.

About 900 people visited the roadshow while it was in Wanganui over the weekend. NZ Oil & Gas is due to start looking for fuels about eight miles off the Patea coast next year.


New Zealand Oil and Gas chief executive Andrew Knight, who was at the roadshow, said he would be happy to talk to Dr Dickison about the science behind the roadshow.

New Zealand Oil & Gas chief executive Andrew Knight explains the drill region. Photo/Bevan Conley
New Zealand Oil & Gas chief executive Andrew Knight explains the drill region. Photo/Bevan Conley

He said the roadshow was designed to raise community awareness of the search for oil and gas off the South Taranaki Coast with drilling at Kaheru due to start early next year.

He said the community had concerns about the drilling and that "was only natural".

He said there was proof dinosaurs were in New Zealand and overseas there were fossil fuels sourced from dinosaurs.

"Some oil and gas comes from dinosaurs. There are a number of sources."

Rae Ranginui of the Whanganui River said she came to the roadshow to see what the oil industry was doing. She was opposed to oil exploration in the region and hadn't changed her mind.

The roadshow was called "really cool" said Deeana Ahkit-Wedgwood, "turns out I'm a deckhand". The roadshow had a number of interactive games around the industry.

Charla Ahkit said it was "quite cool" and was particularly interested in the information about seismic surveys and anything about fracking.