deputy political editor

Prime Minister Helen Clark has vetoed the appointment of Shane Te Pou as an executive assistant to the Minister of Maori Affairs, Dover Samuels, because of Mr Te Pou's controversial past.

Beehive sources say she does not want a repeat of the scandals which dogged the previous Government.

The row over Mr Te Pou, who was Mr Samuels' election campaign manager, blew up after a list of appointments circulated in Parliament showed he was Mr Samuels' executive assistant.

"I understand he was on a list. He will not be employed in the office," Helen Clark told the Herald yesterday.

Asked whose decision it was not to go ahead with Mr Te Pou's appointment, she said: "Mine."

She would not give detailed reasons, other than to suggest a search of media reports.

In July 1997 the Sunday News reported that Mr Te Pou had been forced to quit as Labour Party Maori Council chairman after pressure from Helen Clark.

Asked yesterday if her reasons for blocking Mr Te Pou's appointment to Mr Samuels' staff was related to his use of a union credit card, she said "yes."

She said Mr Te Pou would not be an appropriate person to work in the office.

"Mr Samuels has been advised of the reasons."

Asked if Mr Samuels had accepted the decisions, she said: "Mr Te Pou isn't employed."

Mr Samuels declined to comment until he had discussed the matter further with Helen Clark.

The Te Pou appointment is one of three instances in which Mr Samuels has been in hot water with Helen Clark in just over a week. He was rebuked for contradicting Government policy by saying that funding for a Maori television station, announced by the outgoing Government, would go ahead.

Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs has backed a new Maori channel but said she wants to be sure it is properly resourced. The $10.9 million in funding for the station is being reviewed and the first instalment of $6.5 million has been put on hold.

Yesterday Mr Samuels was dampening down another brush fire after the early release to the media of briefing papers to the incoming Government from the Ministry of Maori Development.

The cabinet had decided there would be a controlled release over the summer recess of the departmental briefings to incoming ministers.