Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters should reveal who invited him to a celebration for Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha last year, the National Party say.
The New Zealand First leader spoke at the Waiteti Marae at the event in June last year to mark Haumaha's promotion to Assistant Commissioner and receiving the Queen's Service Medal.
When the Herald reported that Peters attended the celebration, in a story which detailed some of Haumaha's associations with New Zealand First, the deputy Prime Minister told Parliament he was invited by the "Government of the day".
"The National Party, who were then the Government, and the Minister of Police as well, and there asked by the Police to make a speech. I do not think that in any way compromises me."
Documents released by the Police under the Official Information Act say Waiteti Marae - of which Haumaha is the chairman - organised invitations to the event.
Details of the event were forward to the former Minister of Police, Paula Bennett, at the request of her office, according to the OIA material released by the police.
But Bennett has checked her records and says she did not invite Peters - who was photographed sitting beside Haumaha in the front row - according to National MP Chris Bishop.
"The Official Information Act response shows it was the Waiteti Marae which organised the event, not the Police or the Government. Mr Peters needs to clarify who exactly invited him to the marae," said Bishop.
"This is further evidence of what we've said from the start - a conflict of interest for Mr Peters which should have been disclosed."
Haumaha is now at the centre of a government inquiry - announced by Peters when he was the acting Prime Minister - after the Herald revealed controversial comments Haumaha made during Operation Austin, an investigation into historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.
Peters would not reveal who invited him to the Waiteti Marae but ruled out Haumaha.
"As Mr Peters recalls, he attended that event as he was in the Rotorua area at the time and it is common for him to be invited to local events," a spokeswoman said.
"Mr Peters spoke at the event after requests from those in the crowd, which is common in a Māori setting."
Peters gave a "short political address" ad lib, said the spokeswoman, on New Zealand First policy and police numbers.
According to the Police, the Master of Ceremonies made an "off-the-cuff" decision to invite Peters to speak given his status as a senior Member of Parliament.
Asked how long he had known Haumaha or to characterise the association, Peters said "I've been travelling around Māoridom for more than 50 years, meeting thousands as I've done so."
"However, I became more aware of Mr Haumaha's status and record following his being asked to handle the fallout of the Tuhoe raids," said Peters, referring to the 2008 police investigation targeting Tame Iti and others training in the Urewera ranges with firearms.
The National Party first raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest when it emerged Haumaha was once selected to be the New Zealand First candidate for Rotorua in the 2005 election.
He was not confirmed as the candidate, however, after his wife admitted stealing nearly $24,000 from her employer to replace political campaign funds she had lost while gambling.
Haumaha was replaced by Fletcher Tabuteau, now the deputy leader of New Zealand First, who comes from the Waiteti Marae, of which Haumaha is the chairman.
They are both Ngāti Ngāraranui and Tabuteau referred to Haumaha as a member of his whānau in his maiden speech to Parliament in 2014.
Tabuteau's uncle, Tommy Gear, a close friend of Winston Peters, is a trustee of the Ngāti Ngāraranui Hapu Trust along with Haumaha.
Gear and Haumaha are senior leaders on the Waiteti Marae, where the special function to celebrate his achievements were held.
Neither Gear or Tabuteau invited Peters to the Waiteti celebration, said the spokeswoman for Peters.
Other speakers at the event included Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Rotorua MP Steve Chadwick, former Māori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell and current Labour MP Willie Jackson.
The government inquiry will not look into the suitability of the candidate, but the appointment process, including whether all the relevant information was provided to, or gathered by, the SSC panel which recommended Haumaha.
Both Peters and Tracey Martin, the NZ First minister overseeing the inquiry, downplayed Haumaha's links to the political party and denied any conflict of interest.
Their original choice to lead the inquiry, Pauline Kingi, resigned before starting after the Herald revealed she had endorsed Haumaha on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
She had also been on advisory boards for the Auckland and Counties Manukau police districts as a representative of Te Puni Kōkiri.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush - who was on the SSC panel which recommended Haumaha's appointment - was the district commander for Counties Manukau at the time.
In 2010, Kingi appeared in a police newsletter about iwi leaders working closely with police across the three Auckland districts.
Haumaha was the national manager of Māori Pacific Ethnic Services and was the only person quoted in the newsletter story.
Kingi was replaced by Mary Scholtens, QC, who was given just six weeks to investigate whether the recruitment process was robust.
Scholtens was due to complete the inquiry by the end of September but was given an extra five weeks, as the number of witnesses was greater than expected.
The inquiry will now report back on November 2.
A second investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority is now under way after formal complaints of bullying from two of the three women who walked out of Police National Headquarters in June 2016 and refused to return because of Haumaha's alleged behaviour.
The policy analysts - two from the Ministry of Justice, one from Corrections - were based at PNHQ in Wellington working in the Māori, Pacific, Ethnic Services division run by Haumaha, a superintendent at the time.
The Herald revealed in August the three women told their managers, did not return to PNHQ, and continued working on the project from the Ministry of Justice offices.
The written statements of the two women had been provided to Scholtens, as well as the Professional Conduct division of the police and the IPCA.
Scholtens was "mindful" the two investigations "should not adversely impact on each other and that people are not unnecessarily interviewed twice about the same matters".
"The [Government] Inquiry emphasises that it is not investigating the truth or otherwise of the complaints against Mr Haumaha," Scholtens said in a minute released on the Internal Affairs website.
"It is simply considering whether there was information available at the time of the appointment, such as complaints in relation to his behaviour, that might have been relevant to that appointment process, as required by its terms of reference."
As such, Scholtens said partial transcripts of interviews would be forwarded to the IPCA if the evidence was relevant to the allegations of bullying.
The inquiry into Haumaha's appointment was announced the day the Herald revealed comments he made during Operation Austin, an investigation into historic police rape allegations made by Louise Nicholas.
He described his friends Brad Shipton as a "softie" and Bob Schollum as a "legend" with women, while one officer told the 2004 investigation into the police sex allegations that Haumaha described Nicholas' allegations as "a nonsense".
While Haumaha has apologised, Police Minister Stuart Nash said he was unaware of the "deeply disappointing" comments when he gave Haumaha's name to the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the deputy commissioner role.
If, at the conclusion of the inquiry, deficiencies are found in the appointment process, the Prime Minister will seek advice from the Solicitor General or the State Services Commissioner on the appropriate next steps.